Gravel mining applicants get CUPs

NEW ULM – After listening to gravel hauling concerns Tuesday, the Brown County Planning Commission added a number of Conditional Use Permit (CUP) conditions to a pair of North Star Township gravel mining operations applications.

North Star Township Supervisor Ron Groebner said gravel trucks owned by Central Specialties Inc. of Alexandria and Knife River Corp. exiting the Geis gravel pit in Section 29 have taken a heavy toll on township roads leading to U.S. Highway 14.

“Without grading and water, the roads have been a mess for the last two years,” Groebner said. “Between the two companies, the roads were damaged more than you can imagine. The 10 cents (per yard township maintenance donation, a permit condition), didn’t cover costs to restore the road. It should be graded daily, which we do.”

Brown County Assistant Zoning Administrator Desiree Hohenstein said her office has received complaints.

Commissioner Loren Renberg said landowners and haulers need to work together to help maintain roads.

Permit conditions stipulated the owner (Geis) is responsible for dust control during hauling including applying magnesium chloride on roads gravel trucks use at a minimum length of 700 feet by 20 feet per building site.

“I’ve never seen requirements like these before,” said Central Specialties Environmental Manager Sue Viergge. She originally asked for 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. hauling hours.

Permit conditions allow graving mining hauling 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday; and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for hot mix plant hauling.

Commissioners approved:

Similar permit conditions for gravel mining by L&S Construction, owned by Herb Scheffler, in a nearby pit, except there is no hot mix plant.

Bay Con Society Inc.’s application to continue to allow up to 4,000 head in a hog-wean-to-finish operation with a 100x556x11 foot deep earthen basin in Section 7, Linden Township.

Schwartz Farms, Inc. application allowing construction of a new feedlot with a 153×184-foot hog confinement barn with an eight feet deep liquid manure storage under the barn with a maximum capacity of 3,300 head in a hog finishing operation in Section 18, Prairieville Township.

Two nearby residents, David Jahnke and Ed Wagner e-mailed concerns about children’s allergies and too many barns in the area. Prairieville Township Chairman Francis Fromm voiced concern about the nearby tile lines.

“Locate the tile before digging. I’d like to see the barn moved to the north so it isn’t so close to tile,” Fromm said.

“We aspire to be good neighbors,” said Schwartz Farms Environmental Consultant Bill Crawford. “This is a state-of-the-art, power-ventilated barn.”

John Schwartz said the firm already has four barns like the one he plans to build and has no complaints about them.

“You could add a condition that we’ll be responsible for any tile damage due to construction,” Schwartz said.

Commissioner Lochner agreed, adding the Schwartzes can work on their project with the Brown County Ditch Inspector.

Hohenstein said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) would deal with any hog barn odor issues.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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