Columbus calls July 9 meeting on sand mining

Wyoming’s recent vote clouds picture regarding Forest Lake Contracting


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

A recent move by officials in Wyoming is forcing their neighbors in Columbus to call for a huddle next week.

Columbus residents and property owners who are interested in Forest Lake Contracting’s plans to haul remaining sand from the pits at the John’s Black Dirt site on 189th Avenue should attend a roundtable discussion set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 9 at City Hall, 16319 Kettle River Blvd.

In an effort to preserve the condition of certain roads, Wyoming City Council members voted June 18 to prohibit further travel on 250th Street, among others, by vehicles with weights exceeding five tons.

In Columbus, that effectively shuts down 189th Avenue, which becomes 250th Street at the border with Wyoming, as a route for trucks to carry sand from John’s Black Dirt to the arterial Kettle River Boulevard and on to any project sites.

The mining property could have a different access to the south at Vassar Street, but the entrance and exit at 189th is what trucks have used for John’s Black Dirt for 30 years, Columbus council members said. Bill Krebs noted, during council talk June 26, that some of the trucks weigh close to five tons without any sand.

Earlier in June, Forest Lake Contracting had withdrawn a request for an interim use permit – following neighbor complaints – that would have regulated its removal of an estimated 490,000 cubic yards of sand from John’s Black Dirt over 10 years. But with the council no longer having an IUP to consider, the contracting firm’s rights to the sand – through agreement with the site’s owners – reverted to rules in a conditional use permit that was amended and approved in 1993.

A consensus from neighbors who have spoken at recent Columbus meetings would ask that hauling from the site stop entirely. But city officials report that option is not realistic.

“They (Forest Lake Contracting) have one contract this year,” City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko said June 26, “and they need to haul the material this year, because they already have the contract.”

Mursko confirmed for the Forest Lake Times that Forest Lake Contracting’s one job for 2013 is on Lexington Avenue. The company declined requests for more information from the Forest Lake Times.

“Shutting them down is not an option,” Mursko said. “(The question for Columbus is), now what are we going to do?”

Forest Lake Contracting officials are expected to attend a regular council meeting July 10 for talk of future options.

“Sometime after the 10th, they are going to haul,” Mursko said.