Blasting, heavy truck traffic as well as grinding and crushing noises may well become the standard for residents of Little Cedar this summer.
This after the Mitchell County Board of Adjustment last Tuesday night unanimously approved a special exemption allowance for the Little Cedar Quarry to go back into operation. The old quarry has not seen activity since 1961.
The approval, which included several “conditions” as demanded by both the board and Little Cedar citizens, was finalized during a public hearing in which about 12 citizens attended.
Those conditions included a new time limitation on blasting and crushing, as well as a safety fence, warning signs and water testing. Also on the list of conditions was a “reclamation” process that will protect against damages done to homes and property by the operation.
Officials Ulland Brothers of Austin, MN, the company that is leasing the quarry to produce aggregate for access roads associated with a nearby wind turbine farm, say they will only be in operation for four to five months at maximum. The lease, however is for two years.
Initially, the company wanted to run the operation for 24 hours to expedite the process. After hearing concerns from residents last week, Ullland Brothers backed the time off.
Now, blasting and crushing can only take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. It was stated by many Little Cedar residents that most go to work at 6 a.m., but that those same residents on Quail Avenue also want to enjoy the summer evenings without excessive noise and excessive danger.
“Our concern is really for the kids,” said Steve Frost, who lives closest to the quarry with his wife Gabriella and their children. “Our children, as well as other children sometimes play in the area.”
As well as the paired-down schedule, Ulland Brothers also agreed to install a new chain link fence, as well as warning signs at the southwest property line of the quarry. Futhermore, the company agreed to notify residents before blasting takes place.
“A siren signal will sound before we start any blasting,” explained Valerie Raverty, aggregate manager for Ulland Bros. “We don’t foresee any problem with notifying people with phone calls either.”
Others at the meeting from Little Cedar were concerned with property damage as a result of blasting to uncover new rock for crushing.
“What if six months after you leave someone’s chimney falls off?” asked Little Cedar resident Craig White. “We want to know who is responsible.”
As explained by Raverty, the company is liable for all damages under the “reclamation process” established as part of the exemption process.
” We are responsible for any damages for up to a year after we leave,” explained Raverty, who added that her company has paid for and conducted a “pre-condition survey of all the homes near the quarry so that things are the same when the job is over as when it began.”The reclamation also means we replace vegetation at least up to 70 percent of what is was before.”
Truck traffic, resulting from hauling the aggregate from the quarry, didn’t seem to come up until Dave Falk of L.R. Falk commented on it.
“Do the citizens of Little Cedar realize that there will be about 400 trucks per day coming in and out town?” asked Falk.
“We will let our drivers know that this is a community with homes and people,” said Raverly. “If anyone is driving erractic, I hope someone will notify us.”
Finally on list of demands to quell the concerns of Little Cedar residents was water quality. Most properties in the small town have shared on-site drinking water wells and septic systems.
Mitchell County Planning and Zoning Director Mark Ross (who is also the county sanitarian), was present at the Board of Adjustment meeting and explained that any resident can get their water tested at anytime at no cost.
“It’s a free service of the county,” explained Ross. “It’s part of our responsibilities in the sanitation department .”
Hearing no more comments or concerns after an hour of discussion, the board approved the exemption.
Board of Adjustment members will now make a formal recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Commission who, in turn, will send a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
This was the second public hearing on the quarry. A legal hitch had forced county officials to repeat hearings associated with re-opening.
County officials inadvertently failed to re-appoint two members of the Mitchell County Board of Adjustment, Steve Groth and Bill Murrow, whose terms had expired.
Ulland Brothers was hoping to start quarry operations in May but as a result of delays with the recent public hearings, the project may be pushed back until at least June.
by David Namanny, Press-News Editor
1 April 2008
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