New public process is in motion on proposed gravel pits near Eagle Lake
WILLMAR -- A public process was set in motion Tuesday to review the potential environmental effects of two gravel pits near Eagle Lake. The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to an environmental assessment w...
WILLMAR -- A public process was set in motion Tuesday to review the potential environmental effects of two gravel pits near Eagle Lake.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to an environmental assessment worksheet the county originally approved in 2003.
That decision is the first step in a process that will include a new public comment period on the worksheet. An environmental assessment worksheet is a screening tool used to determine if a more in-depth environmental analysis of a project is required.
When the matter first came before the county in 2003, the county said the two gravel pits proposed by Duininck Bros. Construction would not cause significant environmental damage and decided that the more in-depth review was not necessary.
A citizens' group challenged that decision in court. The Minnesota Supreme Court in a ruling last year instructed the county to take a closer look at cumulative effects that multiple gravel pits in an area could have on the environment.
The county then hired an engineering consultant, Bol-ton and Menk of Willmar, to prepare a report on the issue of cumulative environmental effect. The engineering firm's report concludes there are no significant cumulative environmental effects.
The commissioners' decision Tuesday amends the environmental assessment worksheet to include the new report from Bolton and Menk.
Jay Squires, an attorney who represented the county in the court challenge from the citizens' group, said he believes the county's response not only meets the requirements of the high court but actually goes above and beyond the Supreme Court's directive.
Taking the step to hire an engineering firm was not required by the court, Squires said.
He said the court wanted only to make sure the county looked at the proposed gravel pits through the "proper lenses."
County Attorney Boyd Beccue said the county's action was "more than a good faith effort" response to the Supreme Court.
The newly amended environmental assessment worksheet will be subject to a 30-day public comment period from Feb. 26 to March 28.
The commissioners then have 30 days to decide if further environmental review is required, taking into consideration the Bolton and Menk report as well as any public comments.
Following that, there will be a 30-day opportunity for a challenge to the board's decision.
In other action Tuesday:
- Commissioners heard a report on the 2006 revenues and expenditures for the Family Services Department that showed revenues exceeded expenditures by $341,863.
- The board approved a three-year contract for the county corrections officers that includes a 3 percent salary increase for each year. The contract involves 53 employees.
- Commissioners heard an update from Recorder Julie Kalkbrenner on potential changes that could require the county to process passports and birth certificates at different offices as part of federal security regulations.
- The board agreed to pay Duininck Bros. Construction $3,000 from a 2004 road construction project near Ridgewater College. The county had withheld the payment until a dispute over the project was settled.
- The board agreed to set a fee schedule of $1,000 for an initial permit for demolition landfills and $250 for annual renewal. The action was taken because Jay Morrell Building Investments LLC is seeking state and local approval to operate a demolition landfill in Roseville Township. The commissioners delayed discussion of what financial bonding they would require the company to have if the landfill is approved.
- Commissioners encouraged Solid Waste Officer Jeff Bredberg to conduct a free tire collection day for county residents this summer. A collection was held about five years ago that cost the county about $25,000 in tire disposal fees.