By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
An application by Central Specialties Inc. of Alexandria has been submitted to Stearns County Planning Commission to run a temporary asphalt plant at the intersection of 93rd Avenue and Powder Ridge Road, northwest of Kimball.
The initial hearing on the Interim Use Permit application was held Monday evening, March 29, lasting two hours. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval with five added conditions.
• Hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. as requested, but only Monday through Friday; holidays are also precluded from operation.
• The interim use permit allows for operation for a maximum of 30 days, and it will expire Sept. 30, 2021.
• Truck hauling signs will be required.
• Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) and/or excess materials must be removed when operation is completed.
• The applicant must provide a $5,000 financial guarantee to ensure that temporary equipment and RAP is removed.
The Planning Commission established the following findings of fact:
• This use is allowed.
• The operation must comply with state and federal requirements, in addition to the five conditions listed above.
• This use is compatible with present use of the property (mining operation with some existing screening from adjacent land).
• Environmental concerns are addressed through the permit conditions and through state permit requirements.
• Concerns about increased truck traffic, dust, and noise are addressed through permit conditions and state perit requirements.
• Air and water quality impacts of this operation, in the view of the Commission, are addressed iin the application, “and there shouldn’t be a significant impact.”
• This operation conforms to the County’s Comprehensive Plan regarding Nature Goals:
•• “Ensure the reasonable and responsible use of the county’s natural resources, including land, surface and ground water, minerals, open space, wetlands, wildlife, and woodlands.”
•• “Protect the County’s aggregate resources and provide for reasonable economic use of aggregate.”
The Commission also noted that Maine Praiire deferred permitting this asphalt plant to the County.
The Stearns County Board of Commissioners will consider this request at its next meeting that starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 6. That agenda should be available at http://stearns
countymn.iqm2.com/-Citizens/Default.aspx. later this week. The Interim Use Permit likely will be approved at this meeting.
Asphalt is a mixture of sand and stone – which is abundant locally – with a tarry petroleum byproduct, heating it to 250 degrees.
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, minute amounts of dozens of pollutants are produced by asphalt plants; these include lead, arsenic, formaldehyde, and benzene (a known cancer-causing agent). Effective filtration can limit, but not eliminate, release of these pollutants into the air; and proximity to waters linked to local lakes and the Mississippi River is another cause for concern. The Planning Commission believes these concerns have been appropriately addressed by the applicant.