The City of Winona and Biesanz Stone Company may be one step closer to entering into a nonconforming use agreement that would regulate the quarry’s future expansion plans. The City Council will discuss the proposed draft during a pre-council informational session Monday.
The nonconformity agreement was first discussed in June when Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa presented the findings of the Biesanz site analysis to the City Planning Commission as part of the frac sand study during the city's moratorium on the industry. Espinosa said the best way to regulate the site, which has "grandfathered" status, was to craft a nonconformity agreement.
“For all intents and purposes, the agreement, once it is approved, would require Biesanz to begin drafting a reclamation plan,” Espinosa explained. “This is an issue separate from the frac sand recommendations and would go into effect once the mine starts excavating.”
Espinosa also said the draft is not part of the moratorium study recommendations because Biesanz is a larger operation and has “a lot more things going on.”
The proposed nonconformity agreement includes 10 stipulations that regulate where the mine can operate, how deep it can be, hours of operation, dust mitigation plans, and a reclamation plan. The agreement also requires the submission of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet if Biesanz wishes to excavate for sand outside of its 2011 mine footprint.
During the June Planning Commission, Biesanz Manager of Quarry Operations Pete Schwab said it wasn’t until recently that the operation, which has been producing stone and aggregate products since 1904, started hearing complaints.
“Quarries almost always start out in the country,” he said. “It’s the city that moves out to the quarry. That’s just how it is.”
Espinosa said the Planning Department has been working with Biesanz to craft a reasonable agreement and said the company is in agreement with the proposed regulations.
Because the agreement does not prompt any changes to city code, Espinosa said the agreement does not trigger a required public hearing.
The informational meeting will be Monday, December 3, at 5:15 p.m. in the Wenonah Room of City Hall.