<HR><CENTER><B>County puts temporary<br> hold on gravel permits</B></CENTER>
Thu, 08/24/2000 - 2:00pm admin
between rural living and gravel industry
By Sara Quam
In light of recent gravel extraction controversies, the Rock County Board of Commissioners voted to hold action on new permit requests for up to one year to allow time to study gravel issues.
Effective immediately, the board passed an interim ordinance and moratorium, from a minimum of 60 days to a maximum of one year, subject to review of the county attorney. The moratorium will allow time to study how a balance between rural living and economic development can be achieved.
Tuesday’s action comes in the wake of heated public meetings this summer over a request by Henning Construction to extract gravel from a rural neighborhood south of the airport. That permit was eventually denied, but discussion since then has focused on rezoning areas to prevent future controversy.
Rock County isn’t alone in its search for this balance. The statewide issue will be discussed at the next Association of Minnesota Counties meeting, but the board felt it necessary to avoid conflict until the issue gets more study locally.
The Board also approved a new Land Management Plan, which updates information, and a Planning and Zoning Ordinance, which updates the enforcement of the ordinances.
The policy guide was reviewed and updated to respond to changes in times and conditions. The plan, available for public viewing, is divided into seven chapters: Population and Demographics, Economic Development, Housing, Climate and Physical Features, Transportation and Infrastructure and History and Recreation.
The most noticeable change to the ordinance plan is the fee schedule. Variance and conditional use hearings will increase from $250 to $500 and from $300 to $500. The hearings actually cost the county $1,075, so the fees do not account for all costs.
Those increased fees affect the gravel business and not feedlots. Land Management Office Director John Burgers said state money set aside for managing the feedlot program helps compensate for those user fees so not increasing feedlot charges is justified.
The argument can be made that agricultural businesses and gravel businesses should be charged the same for permits regardless of state aid, but Burgers said feedlots require fees for additional inspections so the scale is fair.
"I think it’s more important to spend time with inspections on site, and spend money there, than in hearings where no one shows up," Burgers said.
"We looked at where our costs are and where we’re recouping."
The new ordinance book includes guides for wind and wireless towers for the first time. Dwellings now require two acres instead of one, which makes it more suitable for septic system guidelines and roadway setbacks.
In other business Tuesday the board:
He also said he is proposing legislation that would make the Department of Corrections responsible for investigating allegations of maltreatment in DOC licensed juvenile facilities.
Ehlers said the rules and regulations of those facilities are too specialized for Family Service agencies to investigate on their own. Each case takes about 40 hours of personnel time, and Ehlers said the unfunded mandate is unfair to the county to pay for.