The Winona City Planning Commission will hold a second informal roundtable discussion Monday for public and commissioner input on the final draft report on the frac sand industry. The Commission was charged with conducting the study during the city's moratorium on frac sand operations.
Commissioners addressed concerns about habitat, wetland, and quality of life, air quality, water permitting, and environmental and traffic impact throughout the study period. The report concluded that the industry should “coexist with other businesses in Winona” and “such activities should have sufficient regulations to protect the environment.”
During the commission’s October 22 meeting, the final draft was sent back to the drawing board after citizens and commissioners raised concerns about an incomplete evaluation of air quality issues. Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa said he would contact the Minnesota Department of Health to obtain more information on how to effectively address those concerns.
“I think what we’re trying to do is strike a balance between a growing industry and addressing the issues,” Espinosa said. “What we’ve tried to do is come up with recommendations that will add to [what] we already have in place. I think [the city council] will see that these are necessary changes that help address the potential expansion of the industry.”
If the Planning Commission approves the draft recommendations, there will be a public hearing on the draft, tentatively set for early December. The recommendations would then be sent to the City Council for final approval.
Espinosa said if some or all of the recommendations are approved, they will be written into city code. However, if the council decides to veto the recommendations, the frac sand industry in Winona will rely on the regulations provided in the language of current CUPs.
The roundtable meeting is tomorrow, November 5, at 4:30 p.m. in the Wenonah Room at City Hall.