Panel tables request for mining operation
By Clay Schuldt
NEW ULM – The Planning Commission tabled a request for a Conditional Use Permit for a mining operation on North Garden and Elm Street at its Thursday meeting.
Commissioners decided more information was needed before making a decision.
The CUP application came from Haala Real Estate, LLC. If granted, the permit would allow the commercial excavating of natural materials at 1201-1417 N. Garden St. and 1201-1227 Elm St., which is zoned as residential.
A public hearing allowed neighboring residents a chance to comment on the proposed mining operation, which would be a gravel pit.
Several residents living near the proposed site expressed concerns about the management of storm water, harmful dust particles and potential damage to public rights-of-way.
Lance Oscarson, who lives across the street from the site, has been circulating a petition in opposition to the mine. Nine individuals have signed it.
Oscarson said he purchased a home under the impression that no development would take place in the area. In addition he cited the possibility of increased truck traffic.
“I paid an assessment from the last time Garden Street was redone, and I don’t want the kind of damage this is going to do to Garden Street on the North end. I would just prefer to not have another assessment to do it again,” Oscarson said.
Applicant Tom Haala and M R Paving representative Matt Mathiowetz attended the meeting to answer questions about the project.
Mathiowetz said the company would present storm water plans and reclamation plans before any mining took place. There is potential for storm water retention ponds, sediment ponds, rock checks and other erosion prevention features, he said.
As for hazardous dust, Mathiowetz said that no rocks would be crushed on site and water would be used to keep dust levels down.
Commission member James Hogen asked if any current documentation existed detailing the drainage plan, saying an actual plan would be needed before he was willing to approve the permit.
City Council member Les Schultz said that he had received several calls from residents concerned about the drainage on this site. He asked the Commission to keep a close eye on the water run off issue.
Earlier in the hearing, Community Development Director David Schnobrich informed the Commission that the City Staff would recommend the preparation of several documents prior to approval of the CUP.
The documents would need to show the development and implementation of a drainage and conveyance plan to deal with the storm water that discharges across the property, development of an operational plan that addresses site security, traffic circulation, project schedule for mining, impact to public rights-of-way, mining methods, buffer areas and reclamation plans. The applicants would also need to secure a storm water permit from the City and a construction activity permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Commissioner Ruth Ann Webster said that based on information learned at the public hearing, the Board could not recommend the permit without all the documents recommended by staff.
Schnobrich said that the request could be tabled until the necessary information was obtained.
Hogen made the motion to table the discussion and give Haala time to develop the required drainage and operating plan in order to give the Planning Commission the necessary details to make an informed decision. The motion was seconded by Webster.
Commission member Gary Sonnenberg suggested the applicant include an estimated time of completion. The proposed mining operation is currently estimated to be multi-year, but Sonnenberg wanted a specific time span for the mine.
Mining licenses are renewed on a year-by-year basis, Schnobrich informed the Commission.
The Commission then voted to table the decision until the August meeting.
The Planning Commission approved a petition on behalf of Vaharoslee, Inc., to rezone the property at 301 N. German Street from Limited Business District (B-1) to General Business District (B-3). The reclassification of the property would allow the construction of a new condominium project. The building currently on the site would be demolished.
A CUP granting the construction of the condominiums was also recommended by the Commission. Vaharoslee representative Eric Bode estimated that construction would begin in spring of 2015 and would be completed in eight months.
A CUP request from Rick Apitz was approved. Apitz requested the permit to create a single apartment unit for himself in a building zoned B-3 at 419 Second South Street. The City has previously approved the location of apartment units in B-3 zones. Staff recommended approval on condition applicant pay the cost to record the permit with Brown County.
Apitz explained that he would not be changing much to the building because the space was already set up as an apartment. The CUP request was sought to simply allow Apitz to live in the apartment, which would be restricted without the CUP.