Impact of UMore mining becomes clearer
The University of Minnesota released its Final Environmental Impact Statement Oct. 4 for planned sand and gravel mining on its UMore property. The university is waiting for comments on the final piece in a large puzzle.
The statement describes what the university wants to do on the property, shares comments it received from the public and governmental agencies and identifies ways to mitigate potential adverse affects of the mining project.
Charles Muscoplat, UMore LLC president, said the process has resulted in a complex document he hopes will calm some fears about the project, especially for area governmental bodies including the city of Rosemount.
"The city needs to know that the regents believe sufficient mitigation (of negative impacts) exists," said Muscoplat.
The university plans to locate new aggregate mines and related businesses on approximately 1,722 acres on the western edge of its UMore Park property in Rosemount and Empire Township. The university is in negotiations with Dakota Aggregates to partner on the project.
The mining will provide income for the creation of a planned residential community that could bring 20,000 to 30,000 people to the area. The sustainable community will integrate environmental, socio-cultural and economic opportunities with a specific focus on innovations in renewable energy, education and lifelong learning, health and wellness, the natural environment and regional economic development.
The university published a draft form of the EIS earlier in the summer and asked for public comment. Muscoplat said the university received hundreds of comments ranging from environmental concerns from the county, to noise and dust concerns from Rosemount, to plain disdain from some residents.
"There have been a lot of eyes on this and we have received a lot of good feedback," said Muscoplat.
In response to the draft report the city sent the university a 10-page letter, which expressed worries that the EIS underestimated the impact of noise, dust and traffic. At the time, mayor Bill Droste said the length of operation and the ancillary also were issues.
Muscoplat said those three issues seemed to be the biggest concerns for many people and that the university took time to address each carefully, including changing routes and proposing to use the best practices available.
"We can't address every issue, but we want to be good neighbors. Eventually we are going to want people to live there and if the neighbors aren't happy then the people living there probably aren't going to be either," said Muscoplat.
City planner Eric Zweber said it would take some time to go through final EIS but said the university has kept him informed and he believes the city has good understanding of what the document says.
"I know they have addressed our concerns in the EIS, it's just a matter if it meets the city's needs," Zweber said.
Regardless of what the Final EIS says, the city and residents of Rosemount will have the chance to critique the process further. The city's planning department is currently in the process of writing an ordinance which will provide the rules for the operations. A public hearing will be held to take comment before the approval of the ordinance.
After the ordinance is approved, the university will have to apply for a permit, which will also include a public hearing.
Muscoplat said there is plenty of opportunity left for people to comment on mining and he hopes people will take the chance to do so.
The university's board of regents will review the EIS in November. Until then the university will take comments on the document.
In November, lawyers will explain the mining project to the board of regents and the issues that came out of the EIS study. Regents will also get an explanation of the proposed mitigation efforts. Then the board will have to decide whether the project is worth going forward with.
Copies of the final EIS are available for review at the Rosemount City Hall, Empire Town Hall, Farmington Public Library and UMore Park Administration Building. The final EIS can also be accessed through the project web site at: http://www.umorepark.umn.edu/planning/sand/.