Winona County Commissioners heard some information from a Minnesota Proppant representative Tuesday on a plan that would run a sand slurry pipeline under Highway 74, a new option for a planned frac sand rail transfer facility just east of St. Charles.
The slurry pipe, said Jeff Griffin, Minnesota Proppant engineer, would cut down on truck traffic through the city of St. Charles and along roads where there are many Amish homesteads. The prospect of more truck traffic has garnered much criticism from neighbors who fear so many semis might threaten the health and safety of the rural community. The pipeline would allow trucks to drop off much of the product south of the industrial transfer facility. It would reduce proposed truck traffic from 500 trips a day to 50 through the city of St. Charles and “eliminate” semi traffic in the Amish neighborhood on Highway 74, said Griffin.
The pipe would run along the county right-of-way, and would include a large booster pump on adjacent private land every mile and a half, said Griffin.
The presentation Tuesday was part of a request from Minnesota Proppant for preliminary approval of the pipeline concept, and several commissioners said any sort of agreement would be premature for a project for which no official plans have been presented so far.
“I think it’s really premature,” said commissioner Jim Pomeroy. “Way out of sequence.” He said hearing about parts of the project prior to the submittal of formal plans could be a “piecemeal approach.”
Commissioners gave no indication of whether they supported the pipeline concept, and instead asked when all the details of the proposal would be made available. Griffin said the first step would be a project-specific environmental review called an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), which will include all project plans. Next, he said Minnesota Proppant would enter into a development agreement, then seek annexation into the city. Then there would be a request to rezone the property for industrial use, and a presentation of a preliminary and final plat, as well as engineering plans.
Joe Wheeler, of the South East Minnesota Multi County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (SEMMCHRA), presented a 2013 preliminary levy request to the county board during the meeting Tuesday.
The SEMMCHRA request was for $114,000, up about $7,000 from 2012 funding. The county is obligated to pay $55,000 for the Lewiston Parkview/Greenview developments and $25,000 to fund the South Fork development in St. Charles.
Commissioners opted to set the preliminary SEMMCHRA levy at $100,000 in a unanimous vote. That figure may be reduced, but not increased, when the final budget is set in December.