Air quality monitoring for mines to be discussed
A long awaited meeting between the Winona Planning Commission and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is scheduled for Monday afternoon. City planners said they hope to obtain advice on proposals for city-led air quality monitoring for frac sand dust and diesel fume pollution. In a letter to the city early this month, the MPCA offered to provide the city with technical help on monitoring dust at frac sand facilities and exhaust along truck routes.
In March, after enacting rules currently in effect for limiting sand dust — a requirement that stockpiles be kept damp — the City Council called for a "proactive" proposal for city monitoring prior to state action. A Planning Commission subcommittee, the Citizens Environmental Quality Committee (CEQC) recommended immediate monitoring to the Planning Commission in early May. In June the commission sent the proposal back for reconsideration in light of new state legislation on frac sand mining. In July the CEQC reaffirmed its position and urged the Planning Commission to begin monitoring as soon as possible to develop a "before" picture prior to the beginning of additional truck traffic and sand processing. In August city staff recommended that the Planning Commission wait to consider that proposal until they could meet with the MPCA. At that point, the MPCA had previously told city staff that it would be many months before it developed new rules on frac sand-related pollution, and CEQC members and citizens bemoaned the commission's delay as "foot-dragging."
Earlier this month, citizens submitted questions for the MPCA representatives via Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa. He said that the representatives are expected to address those questions at the Monday meeting.
Zoning change for triplex
Owners of parcels at the corner of Lenox and Fifth streets on Winona's West End have requested a zone change. The change would convert one property, which is currently zoned for business (B-3), and another zoned for single-family residential (R-1) to medium-density residential (R-2). The owners have a purchase agreement with buyers who hope to certify a building at the corner as a triplex, which is not permitted under R-1 zoning.
City staff has recommended that the zone change be approved, saying that it would benefit the neighborhood as a whole. The commission is expected to make a recommendation for final approval or denial by the City Council.