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Houston County frac sand ban withdrawn

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Frac sand

A conveyor pours crushed sand into a stockpile before it is washed and sorted by grain class size at Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis.

CALEDONIA, Minn. — The proposed Houston County frac sand mining ban is off the table.

The Houston County Protectors announced Monday that they had informed Houston County officials they are withdrawing their proposed amendment to county zoning ordinance Section 27, Mineral Extraction. County officials were informed of the decision Thursday, according to a statement issued by the group.

The Houston County Planning Commission rejected the proposal on at 5-2 vote after a four-hour public hearing Sept. 29.

The proposal would have specifically banned frac sand mining in the county. Proponents claimed the amendment would not have affected the operation of quarries and gravel pits not producing frac sand, a claim that was disputed by quarry operators.

Noting that most of the speakers at the public hearing favored the ordinance, “We developed a good ordinance and acted in a good faith manner, but it was apparent that the Planning Commission was not acting in good faith,” Ken Tschumper wrote in the Houston County Protectors’ statement.

“They had an opportunity to work with us, but they chose not to,” Yvonne Krogstad wrote concerning the decision to withdraw the amendment. “We made every effort to find common ground with the mine owners and operators.”

After the meeting Commission Chairman Dan Griffin said the county would consider including parts of the suggested changes in the ordinance in later work.

“We clearly have agreed on some points tonight that need to be addressed,” Gillman said. “I think as we move forward the planning commission should take the role of amending the ordinances.”

The Houston County Protectors stated that they are launching several initiatives, including an investigation into whether or not non-conforming mines are paying the amount of property taxes they are required by law to pay.

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