As public hearings for a large projects go, Tuesday night's planning commission meeting was fairly quiet.
More than 25 residents attended the hearing regarding a request from Dakota Aggregates for a large scale mining permit,but only a half dozen got up to speak. Myron Napper started it off by expressing concerns about the project contaminating water. Napper said wells in the area have been polluted before by contaminants on the UMore property and asked what assurances staff could give that pollution wouldn't end up in the lake that will be left by the project or in the aquifer that will feed the lake.
Water quality was one of the bigger issues of the night. Commissioners Vanessa Demuth and Syed Ammar Hussein also expressed concerns about water. Demuth wanted to know what type of pollution risks existed from the University of Minnesota's agricultural research and Hussein wanted to know what the general risks were to the water. A staff report to commission members included letters from Dakota County and the Minnesota Department of Health outlining some concerns.
City planner Eric Zweber said staff didn't have a lot of specifics to provide at the meeting but said city staff is working with representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health and Barr Engineering to come up with a revised groundwater plan that will address the various issues. Zweber said the information will be presented during a Sept. 11 planning work session.
Residents also raised concerns about traffic. Rick Cook worried that traffic from the mine will be heavy and asked who will pay for the infrastructure necessary for that level of traffic. Lawrence Kane, who lives off of 145th Street, said the truck traffic past his house has gotten bad and wondered how the project would further impact local traffic.
Carl Johnson, who lives along Highway 3, has seen several accidents lately near his house and told the commission that they needed to ask what the safety impacts of the increased truck traffic along the road way could be.
"I think you're asking for disaster," said Johnson.
Based on the concerns, commission chair John Powell asked staff to get a traffic base count so they can know the impact from the mining. He also instructed staff to inform police about the concerns along 145th Street.
As for infrastructure, Zweber said the company will pay for several road projects leading in and out of the mining area. Zweber said in the permit conditions staff is working on language that will address other issues such as traffic signals along Highway 3 and County Road 42.
Another concern expressed by several, including Frank Knoll, was who will take care of the lake that will be left after the mining is all done. Zweber said plans call for the lake to be part of a city park as development expands.
Dakota Aggregates representative Shawn Dahl spoke during the meeting and said the company has worked hard to provide a project that meets the standards of the ordinance the city passed in May. He also explained why the UMore site is so valuable.
"This particular site is unique in the amount and quality. It's a high quality aggregate reserve," said Dahl.
Dahl said Dakota Aggregates will work hard to be good neighbors.
Dakota Aggregates is a sister company to Ames Construction and Cemstone. Dakota Aggregates hopes to begin its 40-year mining operation in 2013. The company has applied for a permit to mine 890 acres of land it will lease from the University of Minnesota.
If the company receives approval, they will begin mining Sub-Phase 1A, which is 25 acres of land located northwest of Station Trail and County Road 46. The company also would begin dry mining Phase 1 on the northeast corner of the property. Additionally, the company will start its aggregate processing on 70 acres north and east of Station Trail and County Road 46.
This is the second of four planned meetings concerning the permit. The commission went into the meeting with the intent of carrying the public hearing over to the Sept. 25 meeting. The commission will meet for a work session Sept. 11 to get additional information, including the revised groundwater plan.
If the commission feels satisfied all their concerns have been addressed at that meeting they can recommend the permit to the council or if they feel further revisions are needed they can extend the issue.
Details of the project and the permit request are available on the city's website at ci.rosemount.mn.us.