March 24, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.

Hot-mix plant public hearing continued for more fact finding

Hot-mix plant public hearing continued for more fact finding
Hot-mix plant public hearing continued for more fact finding

Two hours of testimony at the public hearing on a permit for an asphalt plant south of Chisago City resulted in only half the arguments being heard. So, the Chisago City Planning Commission continued the public hearing to April 7.

The attorney for the applicant seeking an Interim Use Permit for what is referred to as a portable hot mix plant, near the Washington County border, asked for more time. Bruce Malkerson said "lots of new information" had come to light and in order to respond to a host of issues and data presented by the opposing faction, his clients need time. Malkerson stated Dresel Companies, Tao Land & Cattle -- along with the hot mix operation owner, Hardrives-- need to review questions raised about their application for the Interim Use Permit (IUP).

Chisago City Planning Commission Chair Mark Anderson polled the other four commissioners on their preferences and all agreed to another meeting to continue fact finding. The applicants have waived their legal right to action on the permit within 60 days of filing (Feb. 8) so the city is under no immediate pressure there.

Dresel Contracting submitted an amended permit application that now eliminates the old "parallel flow plant" which caused complaints last summer and fall.

The permit would allow Hardrives, which proposes to lease land at the Dresel gravel pit, south of Green Lake, to operate a "counter flow" system manufacturing hot mix. The application contained various claims about the plusses of the new system and how it is designed to better control odor and pollution.

Several of the opposition speakers Thursday night, however, used an analogy to an industrial farming operation. They said you can have a herd of 700 animals and offer to trim the feedlot down to 300, but it's still not something you want where there's 150 homesites within a one mile radius.

J.D. Lehr, a geologist who owns property near the permit site, was given an extended time slot for his powerpoint talk on numerous items in the IUP application he found fault with.

Lehr questioned information ranging from the permit applicants' claims about prevailing winds, to how the groundwater water flows in the region, as concerns about if a hot mix plant would pollute nearby private water wells, are a huge issue.

The interim use permit would regulate the operation of the hot mix plant for 12 months, but an IUP can be renewed before it expires, so long as conditions Chisago City puts on the plant are followed.

Lehr also argued that it has been claimed by Dresel that at one time a hot mix plant was running on this site, so there should be one allowed now. Lehr shared aerial photos going back to the 60s to substantiate his belief this is not accurate.

(The hot mix plant running in 2009-2010 did not have a permit. Dresel, under the impression this was a grandfathered use, allowed the site's use for hot mix manufacturing.)

Dresel is approved to run a gravel excavation pit. Neighbors all said they knew there was a gravel pit when they built or moved to the area around Itasca and July Avenues, and they have no problem with this business.

The hot mix plant, though, was unacceptable to about 15 speakers (one neighboring property owner did speak in support). They took turns to express concerns about excessive truck traffic, the fumes, the noxious plant odor, effects to air quality and issues with potential waste product pollution of private wells. That was when the meeting hour passed 9 p.m. and the planning commission agreed to a recess.


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