New mining permit may restrict Saturday hauling

Existing permit renders Columbus residents’ petition powerless


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

Columbus officials on Aug. 28 took a petition with more than 100 names from residents who live on Tulane Street and other roads that are south of the John’s Black Dirt property, west of Kettle River Boulevard.

The pit owners have given their blessing, which has not been shared by the neighbors, for Forest Lake Contracting to remove sand from the pits for use in projects including a contract this summer on Lexington Avenue.

At previous City Council meetings, the residents said they feared for neighborhood safety as they were preparing to brace for truck traffic on Tulane and Vassar streets. Now that those trips have begun, neighbors shared with the council last week that vibrations from the road have rattled dishes in their china hutches.

But without legal authority to prevent further mining by Forest Lake Contracting, which is allowed under a conditional use permit owned by John’s Black Dirt, the council acted not on the neighbors’ petition but rather on a step to establish a new interim use permit for the operations.

The city can set a timeline to be followed in an interim use permit, which would replace the conditional use permit that includes no end date.

“(An IUP) is something better than what we’ve got right now, and I think we’re on the right track,” Mayor Dave Povolny said. “This is the beginning of an end process.”

Though Forest Lake Contracting withdrew an IUP request earlier this summer, the city expects to receive a new application by the end of 2013. In the meantime, council members agreed to issue a statement of understanding last week with rules that would govern further work this year and be likely for listing in the IUP.

Site work and traffic will be limited to 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, which removes Saturday hours that have been allowed in the CUP.

Neighbors can expect a daily average of about one truck passing on their roads every 10 minutes, with the empty trucks arriving via Vassar Street (six or seven per hour) and then leaving when full on Tulane Street.

The company will be liable for cleaning residual mud or dirt from neighborhood streets, and the city may order a suspension of hauling during inclement weather.

Last week’s lead petitioners said they felt they, along with the other signers, were being ignored, out of election season.

“They mean votes, but they don’t mean anything else,” one of the petitioners said at City Hall.

Council members replied that they are acting in the public’s interest by preparing for an IUP.

“It is a means to the end,” Councilmember Denny Peterson said.