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Hearing on Big Stone County, Minn., quarry draws mostly opposition

ORTONVILLE -- Residents in the area of a proposed hard rock mining quarry had their say before the Big Stone County Board of Commissioners at a public hearing on Tuesday evening.

More than 120 people are estimated to have attended the hearing at the armory in Ortonville, with 18 of the 20 people who testified voicing opposition to the project, according to Duane Ninneman, Clean Up our River Environment.

The Big Stone County Board will take up the issue again May 1, and commissioners are expected to make a final decision on a conditional use permit by May 21.

Strata Corporation of Grand Forks, N.D., is seeking a conditional use permit to develop a 104-acre quarry on a 478-acre property outside of the city of Ortonville. The property consists of granite outcrops and pasture and is host to nine different species of rare and endangered plants. It is located on the edge of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge.

Ninneman said opponents testified that the development would reduce property values and adversely affect development in Ortonville Township. Speakers also charged that the proposed project violated the county's comprehensive development plan.

The residents were joined by members of the American Indian community in Sisseton, S.D., in voicing opposition to the project.

Officials with Strata also attended the hearing, and will be providing the county responses to the issues raised. Written public comments are being accepted by the county through Wednesday.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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