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Mining gets go-ahead on UMore property

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Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Years of work culminated Tuesday night in the Rosemount City Council's approval of a series of actions to allow Dakota Aggregates to mine nearly 900 acres on the UMore Park property in southeast Rosemount.

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Among the actions was approval of a large-scale mining permit for the company. The company plans to begin mining in 2013. The mining will begin in Phase 1A, an approximately 25-acre lot located northwest of Station Trail and County Road 46. In 2013 the company will begin constructing aggregate processing facilities on land located north and east of Station Trail and County Road 46.

When starting the series of motions to approve the mining project council member Jeff Weisensel said, "It brings me great pleasure to move this forward."

Plans call for Dakota Aggregates to mine the land, owned by the University of Minnesota, over the next 40 years. The company is a partnership between Cemstone Products and Ames Construction. In total the company will mine 1,700 acres of the UMore Park property which straddles Rosemount and Empire Township.

While the city will do annual reviews of the mining operation, the bulk of its responsibility has been completed. Over the course of the last year the city has developed a large scale mining ordinance and then went through the permitting process with Dakota Aggregates. The permit includes more than 30 conditions. The planning commission did most of the heavy lifting along with city planner Eric Zweber.

The process has been a long one as city staff, the planning commission and Dakota Aggregates have worked out issues to make the operations acceptable for both sides. For the city, the biggest concerns were dust, traffic, water quality and noise.

The permit conditions include a number of ways to temper those issues. Dust and noise will be addressed through setbacks, berms and landscaping. Additionally, Dakota Aggregates will only be allowed to mine 80-acre sections at a time.

While some traffic concerns were addressed in the permit, some remain. Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said the issues with the interchange at County Road 42 and Highway 52 are worrisome.

Resident Myron Napper, who lives near the interchange, expressed his concerns during the meeting.

"If you want to see transportation in a bad situation come out to my place at five," Napper told the council.

The city recently held a work session with Dakota County representatives to discuss general transportation issues in the Rosemount area. City engineer Andy Brotzler said the county hopes to address some of the 42/52 issues in phases in the near future, including widening the bridge deck and putting in left turn lanes. However, full reconstruction of the interchange is years away as the Minnesota Department of Transportation has not identified any funding for the $40 million project.

Water quality also was brought up during the Tuesday night meeting. Mining will include operations under the water table. The result will be a lake left on the property that will be turned into a city park.

The open water has caused concerns that it could lead to contamination of the aquifer, which supplies the city's drinking water. Dakota Aggregates has agreed to a number of water quality measures as part of the plan, including putting in a number of monitoring wells.

During the meeting, Weisensel wanted to quell rumors in the community that the mining would lead to the need for a $100 million water treatment plant. He called the idea "absurd."

"Everything has been engineered very well and the process has been transparent to the public," said Weisensel, who is an engineer.

Brotzler said the potential that the city would need to install such a water treatment facility is highly unlikely. With the monitoring, Zweber added that the city should know of any contamination within five years and be able to react to it.

The city does have plans to build a water treatment plant. Brotzler said the plant would treat secondary water standards that would improve Rosemount's water quality, including removing high levels of iron and manganese from the water. Brotzler said the city's water is safe and the proposed plant would address quality standards only.

While the meeting wasn't a public hearing, mayor Bill Droste gave residents a few minutes to share their thoughts.

Napper said he's glad the project is finally coming to a head.

Leslie Davis, a representative from a Minneapolis environmental group, warned the council that if the operation was not well governed there could be consequences. He said such operations can cause air, noise and water pollution.

"Exercise great caution. I know you've spent a lot of time on it but be real careful," said Davis.

Dakota Aggregates will sell sand and gravel from the site. The property sits on top of nearly 200 million tons of sand and gravel. As its part of the agreement, the university will take in $3 to $5 million annually. The funds will be allocated to the university endowment which benefits scholarships and academic research.

The city will receive some tax income from the project. Overall though, community development director Kim Lindquist said the biggest benefit for the community will be the residential community the university will eventually build on the property.

"This is really a means to an end," said Lindquist.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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