The Houston County Board of Commissioners on July 9 heard public comments about its 3-2 decision the week prior to grant Bonanza Grain Co. Inc. an expanded zoning permit.

Donna Buckbee of Rushford was against the renewal because it was established at a planning and zoning committee meeting that Bonanza had violated the previous conditional-use permit.

“At that meeting, it was understood, it was said, that there had been a violation,” Buckbee said. “The mine had encroached into territory that they were not permitted to do so under the existing conditional-use permit. (Planning and zoning director) Bob Scanlan didn’t refute that. Not even the mining company refuted that there had been a violation.”

Buckbee was shocked to learn that Bob Scanlan no longer considered the encroachment issue an established fact. She questioned whether mines would ever be held accountable for their violations and if commissioners intended to hold county staff responsible for their of lack action.

However, not all responses to the board’s decision were negative. Eric Johnson of Houston Township was in favor, saying that he believed commissioners came to a common-sense solution.

“Their mistake in going past what they were permitted for was an honest mistake,” Johnson said.

Term limits requested for planning commission

In the past week, the board has received three letters from citizens requesting the county implement term limits for the planning commission.

The suggestion to implement a term limit was made during the July 2 board meeting by Commissioner Dana Kjome as part of a redraft of Houston County’s zoning ordinance. This would create more turnover within the committee and allow others the chance to serve.

At this time, multiple members of the planning commission have sat on it for a decade, including Chairman Charlie Wieser, who is in his 39th year of service.

Road vacation tabled

A petition was submitted from Dean Foltz to vacate an abandoned road off Minnesota Hwy. 44/76 between Foltz’s property neighbor Andy and Sheri Allen’s.

Commissioner Steve Schuldt said he has researched the issue and cannot find a record for this stretch of road; however, highway engineer Brian Pogodzinski said to Schuldt that it was too early to decide whether to vacate the road.

Schuldt suggested talking to the state and finding a written record of the road to determine its true legal status. The board tabled the issue for the time being.

Grant available to veterans with storm damage

The state Department of Veteran Affairs has made a temporary grant available for any veterans or surviving spouses affected by the storm on June 21-23. Veteran Service Coordinator Rob Gross said uninsured or unmet needs could potentially be covered by this grant.

Gross said it would not be a windfall, but would be a reimbursement grant that will help those without any other sources of assistance. The application process for the grant will run until Sept. 30.

Budget amendments and finance

Accounting manager Carol Lapham brought forward a series of budget amendments that was approved by the board.

Lapham said the amendments were “Just to make the budgets accurately reflect where the expenditure and revenues have been, as opposed to the original estimate. None of them really reflect the bottom line.”

In other news

• The road project on County Hwy. 8 was awarded to J.B. Holland at a cost of $2.36 million, which is under the original estimate.

• Michel Rasmussen and Kelsey Conner were approved as part-time jailer dispatchers. Both have already undergone mandatory training for the position.

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