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October 22, 2018

10/11/2018 2:55:00 PM
Tiller Sunrise pit expansion; public comment underway now

Chisago County got a look last week at the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for a 10-acre expansion of an existing Tiller Corp. mining operation, on River Road just outside of Sunrise.  Tiller wants to remove 600,000 tons total out of the expansion site or about 25,000 tons of aggregate in an operating season.  This will be a smaller operation than the existing pit.  According to County Auditor’s staff-- Tiller was reporting anywhere from 36,000 to 55,000 tons of aggregate mined for tax purposes the last three years.  County aggregate tax is at 15 cents per ton so Tiller has remitted from $5,400 to $7,500 annually.
The haul road for the pit is River Road to County Road 9, then either north to Harris and the freeway,  or south to Hwy 95.  Mike Caron, Tiller  representative, told the Chisago County Planning Commission members the township and Tiller have agreements on applications of calcium chloride for dust control and Tiller has a water truck.  The township does grading.
Caron added that most of the material taken out of the pit is utilized for local road work.  An asphalt plant has operated at this site, but Caron was unsure if that will be re-activated.  It depends on demand for bituminous locally, he said.  Transporting product by truck is costly.  The asphalt equipment would remain where it’s already permitted.

Tiller also owns a parcel south of River Road,  across from the expansion, which Caron said is not being expanded into. “If we thought there was material there we’d be including it now,” he told the planning commissioners.

TKDA Senior Planner Sherry Buss told the county planning advisors the EAW will be under public comment and review by state regulatory agencies and the National Park Service because of proximity to the St Croix Riverway.

The comment period closes October 24 (see sidebox on how to comment) and then it could be December before the county planning commission has a final look at all the information, she stated.

Buss said it will often be the case that concerns and remediation suggestions developed over the course of EAW review get included into the final use permit as conditions of operations.

Tiller has already submitted its county Interim Use Permit (IUP) application-- which stays in limbo until the full environmental review process is completed.

If the County Board makes the ultimate decision that further environmental analysis is required, after it sees the planning commission review and recap, this expansion could be pending well into 2019, Buss added.

She told commissioners now is the time to be thinking about anything they find lacking in the EAW content.  

Planning Commissioner Chris DuBose asked about monitoring well water and stormwater (run-off)  quality. There’s a 200 foot setback from the Sunrise River and even further from the St Croix national park boundary, in the plan.

 Caron said the operation is below grade compared to surrounding landscape,  so run-off isn’t an issue.  Workers contain water “...internally and if a ponding area fills, there’s sure to be another area for water containment....we won’t ever pump water off site,” he concluded.
Water is used to wash the rock, which is screened and divided into sized grades of material. Water appropriated will not exceed 20 million gallons per year, under the permit sought.

The EAW publication date in the Environmental Quality Board “Monitor” was September 24, so the 30-day comment clock started as of that date.  Chisago County has an EAW posted on its website, under the Environmental Services Dept. page.  The Press has a copy at our office in Lindstrom.

Send comments to the responsible g overning unit which is Chisago County.  Environmental Services Director, 313 North Main Street Room 243, Center City, MN 55012 or e mail comments to Kurt.Schneider@chisagocounty.us.

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Ron Rollins for Sheriff

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