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Well complaints stall permit renewal

The Rosemount Planning Commission recommended renewal of one mineral extraction permit and tabled the discussion on another Tuesday night.

Vesterra/Stonex will continue mining in Rosemount in 2013. Vesterra operates mines located south of Bonaire Path and west of Blaine Avenue. The properties are both owned by Flint Hills Resources.

However, things seems a little more uncertain for Shafer Contracting after several residents spoke at a public hearing for the permit renewal. Gary Ista and Joan Schnieder both complained of well-water quality issues and asked the planning commission not to renew the permit until the company had resolved the issues.

Water quality reports from both the Ista and Schnieder wells show levels of contamination. The tests were conducted by Shafer for the residents because of previous concerns. Both wells showed levels of coliform and the Ista well also tested positive for e coli.

Ista told the planning commission he wanted the issues dealt with before the body approved a renewal for a permit.

"I'm hoping something can be done," said Ista.

Schnieder told the commission that her well water had been perfect until a few years ago and now it's undrinkable. She said the mine at one point drilled an illegal well and while it's no longer used, the well has not been properly capped either. She also expressed concerns about recycled asphalt the mine is bringing in from the airport.

"You can live without a lot of things, but not water," Schnieder told the commission.

Shafer representative Frank Weiss said the company hasn't used in the well in several years and that they could cap it if the commission wanted them to. He added that Shafer will do everything it can to abide by the permit.

After a lengthy discussion, the planning commission decided to table the item until its Dec. 11 meeting, to allow time for Shafer and city staff to come up with ways to address Ista's and Schnieder's concerns.

Shafer owns property one mile north of 135th Street East and west of Rich Valley Boulevard. The company has been busy because of the I694 reconstruction project in Arden Hills. Because of the project, the company has been removing aggregate and depositing haul back material.

A staff memo stated that staff did an inspection of the mine in October and it met all conditions.

Additionally, Shafer submitted test results confirming the haul back materials meet permit requirements. The city requires haul back be clean fill material that does not contain organic matter and meets a 95 percent compaction threshold.

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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