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Where is our voice? (01/23/2013)
From: Bob Christie

On Tuesday, January 8, I spoke before the St. Charles City Council. I presented my thoughts on the importance of respect and cooperation between the City and Township when dealing with annexation issues -- most recently the discussion of property for annexation related to the MN Proppant sand processing facility. Hopefully my talk reminded the City Council of the many times the township has cooperated with the City in years past. If presented with reasonable proposals, township residents are respectful of city growth. Such is not the situation presented with the MN Proppant sand facility. By unanimous vote as witnessed by Mayor Spitzer and township residents, the township board voted NO to annexation. End of Story! Not quite.

It seems the city feels a township mandate could be denied if they wished to take control of the land with legal actions. No doubt this option will be very costly to both the city and township and a sad end to decades of respect and cooperation. The council was asked to take no action to resolve this matter. This was also the situation as city residents requested action on the petition they presented at the meeting to draft an ordinance to prohibit sand processing in the St. Charles city limits. It was signed by over 900 city residents. Again, with mayoral guidance, no action was taken.

It seems to me every time the Council takes no action on questions related to the processing plant, it is a vote in support of it. Surely, the Council is aware of the time and expense being accumulated by Winona County in review of this project. Until Winona County hears that St. Charles has taken action to discourage this project, county officials must assume the city wants it. If to take no action is a yes vote, where is the opportunity to say NO? Are you in agreement as councilmen that only YES votes are needed at this time? If you are opposed you should not wait to cast that vote. By waiting, citizens will have no impact on where the Sand Plant is placed, only on who will have jurisdiction over it.

I believe as councilmen you have formed an opinion on this processing facility. I can only speculate as to why you are asked to remain silent. Is it possible you share the thoughts of the ever increasing majority and you, too, believe the following:

• You wish to remain respectful to the Township’s request against orderly annexation and for continued cooperation with them.

• You cannot imagine asking the Catholic community, after all they have invested in their serene and beautiful church, to be accepting of a huge sand plant as their neighbors; and the preschool contained within to adjust to the noise, traffic and silica dust dilemma.

• You do not want to live with the thought of your family members being hit by a truck every time they go or return from school or school activities, or the disruption it may cause main street business.

• You, too, find it disgusting that as a solution to address St. Charles traffic concerns you would be asked to shift 100 trucks a day to your neighboring city of Utica. That may speak to the character of MN Proppant but not to that of the St. Charles City Councilmen.

• You also believe it would not be wise to spend another 1 to 2 million to extend city water and sewer to this project. How can the city deliver water to the sand plant in millions of gallons, return it to the city sanitation plant in thousands or hundreds of gallons and expect it will help lower residential sewer and water rates?

• You, too, are skeptical that the (pipe dream) slurry line will ever become or remain operational. The possibility of many hundreds more trucks is very real! This is a certainty for rural residents who must bear the full impact of 600 trucks a day from the mines destined to the slurry or the city.

• You find it improbable that the city will have the authority to limit truck traffic on State Highways (14 and 74)—both governed by interstate commerce laws and out of city jurisdiction.

• You don’t believe as people pass by the largest processing plant in America they will decide” I sure wish I could live in St. Charles.”

• You don’t believe the vision of prosperity being quoted by MN Proppant will be the reality you will live with long after your service to the City of St. Charles has ended.

If as councilmen you have formed an opinion against this processing plant, it is your responsibility to make that known in discussion. The Mayor has used his voice to call for NO ACTION with obvious reason. As councilmen, to express your thoughts is not a sign of disrespect but of leadership. You will not be alone in your decision. I will provide to each of you a list of more than 900 residents who have also seen and heard enough to make a decision.

Please acknowledge each name on this petition. You will find it to be a list of friends, not adversaries. My hope is that you will take the list and check ten names each day and mentally acknowledge that with each name is a real person, a person who by electing you has asked that YOU be THEIR voice. You will have to remain committed, if you read ten names a day, seven days a week, it will take you more than three months to complete this list.

Please bring action to these two motions:

• Draft the ordinance as worded on the petition proclaiming the mining, loading, unloading, storage, transferring, washing and processing of industrial silica sand (frac sand) is prohibited within the city limits of St. Charles, Minnesota. If past history is any indicator it will prove futile to attempt to draft an ordinance or moratorium after an “official proposal” has been presented. This is the very reason petitioners are requesting immediate action to this proposed ordinance.

• Move to honor the township vote against annexation.

With these actions citizens can move forward as a united St. Charles-- city and township. I cannot imagine Winona County would approve this facility if both city and township are opposed. The likelihood of that result would be much greater if known by the county before investing multitudes more in time and dollars. 


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