The Winona City Council will hold an hour-long informational session prior to their regularly scheduled meeting Monday to hear the final report of frac sand recommendations compiled by the city’s Planning Commission.
The commission was first chosen as the vehicle to study the silica sand industry in March 2012 at the beginning of the one-year emergency moratorium.
Since then, the commission has discussed topics related to habitat, wetlands, quality of life, air quality and permitting, traffic impacts, and road wear, and has investigated all new and existing sand operating sites within city limits.
Throughout the last seven months, commissioners have made recommendations that attempt to better address concerns regarding the controversial silica sand industry and have compiled a 38-page document detailing their recommendations.
The informational session is open to the public and is an opportunity for council members and area citizens to hear the proposed recommendations before the document goes to the council for a final vote later this month. Because the session is not a public hearing, comment from the public is not required to be heard. However, Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa indicated that could change if incoming Mayor Mark Peterson decides to open it up to the public for comment.
“I’m anticipating the council having some questions during the [informational session] and hopefully there will be time afterward for the public to talk as well,” Peterson said. “I would like to think there will be time. But, I think it’s fair to let the council go first and make sure we have all our questions answered.”
Espinosa said after the informational session the council will set a public hearing date, at which the public will be heard, and which is tentatively scheduled for January 22. He also said the council could vote on the recommendations then, or it could table the issue and vote at a later date.
The informational meeting will be Monday at 5:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall.