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Panel digs into mining setbacks

Land-use Management Director Lisa Hanni (front) presents proposed changes to the county's mining ordinance Thursday at Zumbrota City Hall. The ordinance is being revised before the countywide mining moratorium ends Sept. 6.

ZUMBROTA -- Mining Study Committee members presented a list of proposed changes to Goodhue County's mining ordinance at a township meeting Thursday, including adding restrictions to make it more difficult for existing aggregate mines to switch to mining silica sand.

One proposal would require existing mines in Goodhue County to reapply for permits if a "significant change" was made to operations on the site, Land-use Management Director Lisa Hanni said.

Switching the primary product of the mine, altering the excavation process or increasing noise and dust production would constitute such a change, and would require mine owners to seek reapproval from the county, she said.

"So hopefully that will take away some of your fears," Hanni told an overflowing crowd of more than 50 people who packed Zumbrota City Hall to hear the mining committee presentation.

Several of the committee's proposals address issues for existing registered mines stemming from ordinance changes approved by County Board last August, such as increasing the distance mines have to be kept away from dwellings from 300 feet to 1000 feet.

The committee proposes allowing existing mines to be grandfathered in using the 300-foot setback rule.

"We had to put a stipulation in there that says if you have an existing mine, we're not going to tell them now they have to be a thousand feet away," Hanni said.

Members of the Mining Study Committee were on hand to answer questions from residents regarding proposed ordinance changes and the future of mining in the county.

"I was just happy to see so many people from the townships came out to the meeting," committee member Roseanne Grosso said. "They asked some very good questions."

The committee was created by Goodhue County Board following the approval of a countywide mining moratorium in 2011.

The group consists of representatives from each commissioner district, two Planning Advisory Commission members, two mining experts and, as of last August, a member of the Soil and Water Conservation District.

The goal of the committee is to study the environmental, economic and social impacts of mining in Goodhue County, and work to develop the county's mining ordinance, Hanni said.

"We're working to put together an excellent ordinance proposal," said committee member John Hobert. "I think our county is the leading county in the state."

The Mining Study Committee will meet again 9 a.m. May 8 at the Goodhue County Justice Center, 454 W. Sixth St., to continue reviewing ordinance draft proposals.

The County Board is expected to vote on approving the amended ordinance later in the year.

The mining moratorium in Goodhue County ends Sept. 6.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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