The Winona City Planning Commission and area citizens will discuss the silica sand moratorium report one last time during a public hearing Monday, December 10, before it is sent to the City Council for final approval. After six months of study, the commission has compiled a comprehensive report regarding the impact on quality of life, habitat, wetlands, traffic, road wear, and air quality and the issue of water permitting.
“I think [the Planning Commission has] done a great job,” Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa said of the commission’s work. “They’ve had to take in and process a lot of information. I think they came up with some great recommendations.”
In March, the commission was chosen as the group to study the controversial frac sand industry during the city’s emergency one-year moratorium. Since then, it has invited several health officials to present information, provided extra time for concerns to be voiced during meetings, and held two informal roundtable discussions.
At the request of concerned citizens, the commission sent the draft back several times to add and revise language, causing the public hearing date to be delayed two weeks. At the last meeting in November, commissioners, in a 5-1 vote, agreed upon the set of recommendations. Commissioner Brian Buelow was the opposing vote.
After the public hearing Monday, commissioners will forward the report to the Winona City Council for the final vote. If the council decides to approve the recommendations, they will be immediately placed into city code. However, if the council decides to deny the recommendations, the frac sand industry in Winona will rely solely on the regulations provided in existing conditional use permits.
The Planning Commission will meet Monday, December 10, at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.