Sand-hauling agreement hammered out

Approval from Columbus City Council expected May 14

Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

Only one step appears to remain as Forest Lake Contracting seeks a new permit for digging sand at the John’s Black Dirt site, west of Kettle River Boulevard.

Company Vice President Bob Vollhaber ironed out compromises with Columbus City Council members at a meeting April 23. City Attorney Bill Griffith said he would prepare a final agreement for review and consideration of approval at the council’s meeting on May 14.

A new interim use permit would allow the company to schedule a total of 170 days for hauling sand to sites where it might have road work over the next four seasons, or through 2017.

Council members and other residents still were not in agreement on a timeline as meeting discussions started April 23. While some residents have repeated through months of talk on the subject that they would prefer all hauling to end in their neighborhoods near the John’s Black Dirt site, one neighbor said he would be fine with 170 days of hauling if the city could limit the applicant’s long-term plan to three years.

Council Member Jeff Duraine expressed more leniency toward Forest Lake Contracting’s plea that, for reasons involving weather and economics, some summer seasons are simply easier than others for scheduling work. The company could take an average of 85,000 cubic yards of sand from the site each year through 2017, but the interim use permit would prohibit the stockpiling of that much material at once and instead allow no more than 20,000 cubic yards to be stored above ground.

Duraine said he supported a four-year plan through which the company could remove sand and then prepare the site for new development, but he also fought to limit hauling to a maximum 150 days.

Council Member Jessie Messina seconded and voted for Duraine’s motion to allow 150 days of hauling over four years. The motion was defeated, however, with opposing votes from Mayor Dave Povolny and Council Members Bill Krebs and Denny Peterson.

Povolny, Krebs and Peterson later voted as a majority to approve 170 days of hauling over four years, limited to weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The mayor said difference between the motions was not great.

“It’s a month. It’s a month of hauling,” Duraine replied.

With all hauling from the north end of the John’s Black Dirt site currently closed due to action last summer by the city of Wyoming, the operating trucks for Forest Lake Contracting will follow routes where they drive only north on Vassar Street (from 181st Avenue Northeast), only west on 186th Avenue and only south on Tulane Street.

The trucks may enter and leave the neighborhood via Notre Dame Street rather than come in and go out on 181st Avenue at Kettle River Boulevard if the route is more convenient, depending on a job site.

Among other requirements for the applicant in this interim use permit, trucks will be limited to speeds of 40 mph on paved roads in the neighborhood and 20 mph on gravel.

The company will be required to send weekly hauling reports to City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko and notify her of new hauling whenever the company has otherwise gone at least three business days without hauling.

The trucks may be credited for only a half-day of hauling when work begins in the morning but gets shut down around noon due to inclement weather. Vollhaber told the council that it would never be planned for trucks to run on a clear afternoon that followed a rainy morning.

The company will be liable for a performance bond of $75,000, related to wetland mitigation and site restoration, and a separate bond of $85,000, to cover potential road damage.