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Anderson Bros. approved for 30-day asphalt package plant in Fifty Lakes

Web posted May 13, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

Despite opposition from around 15 residents attending a public hearing Tuesday, May 6, and several letters from other residents, the City of Fifty Lakes Planning Commission approved an interim use permit (IUP) for Anderson Brothers Construction to operate an asphalt package plant in Fifty Lakes. Should the city council approve it, the permit will be for 30 consecutive days in Fifty Lakes between June and October, stipulating that all equipment must be removed by Nov. 15.

Residents and Anderson Brothers were given the chance to comment at the public hearing May 6 in front of the planning commission. While it was approved by the commission, the permit still has one hurdle to pass-- it must be approved by the city council at its regular meeting Tuesday, May 13, at 7 p.m.

The portable asphalt package plant will be operated in a gravel pit on the property of Brian Dobie, south of County Road 1 and north of Meyer Lake Road, east of County Road 66.

Approval of the IUP by the planning commission came with 12 conditions that Anderson Brothers must follow. The plant can only be operated for 30 consecutive days. Once the permit begins, it ends 30 days later and the plant must be shut down. Ron Wickham, vice president of Anderson Brothers, told the public at the meeting that he would not apply for another permit for an asphalt package plant at that site after the 30 day period is over.

Anderson Brothers also agrees that any aggregate taken from the pit this season will exhaust the pit, and the pit will be restored to a natural state by July 15, 2015. It will be filled with water and turned into a private lake.

This may have eased one of the main concerns residents voiced at the meeting, which was that establishing a plant at the site could mean more asphalt production on the site in the future.

Other conditions of the permit include that the plant can only be operated between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and that it will not operate on weekends or holidays. Trucks must enter and exit from County Road 1, not Meyer Lake Road. A bond of $50,000 will be established to cover reclamation costs when the asphalt plant and gravel pit cease operation. Anderson Brothers is also required to hire a private contractor to verify that no materials remain in the pit past Nov. 15.

Some members of the planning commission, along with zoning administrator Gordy Reller, reasoned that allowing the asphalt plant meant a foreseeable end to the gravel pit. Without the asphalt plant, Reller said, the pit could remain open and in use indefinitely.

Wickham said that Anderson Brothers bid out this summer’s County Road 3 construction project with the asphalt plant in mind.

“It just happens to sit between two of the largest jobs we have,” Wickham said. He added that if residents want to get their driveways paved, asphalt will be cheaper this summer because of its close proximity.

He said Anderson Brothers has a track record of no Minnesota Pollution Control Agency or Environmental Protection Agency violations.

“We live here, we play here. You all know us. We’ve been in the community for years, and we plan to be here for years. Why would we come here and upset people?” Wickham said.

Residents expressed concerns over noise and odor, as well as difficulty selling any property that’s up for sale in that area.

One of the conditions of the permit is that Anderson Brothers must set up a hotline that residents can call should they have any issues with the plant, including odor. Wickham said that there are measures he can take if odor is an issue for neighbors. He said that given the location of the plant, which is in a pit and surrounded by trees, odor shouldn’t be an issue.

Planning commission member Don Reierson made the motion to approve the permit.

“I have had some concerns about the plant, but after all the information that we’ve seen and the discussions we’ve had, I think it’s best for the city to end the gravel pit and we can do that with this IUP,” Reierson said.

The commission approved the permit unanimously. A specific date has not been determined as to when the asphalt package plant will begin operation, should the council approve the permit.

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