A proposed frac sand loading and storage facility in Wabasha could open as early as next week if the city approves.
The Wabasha City Council will decide at a special meeting Monday whether an environmental review should be done for Superior Sand System’s facility.
The council is considering the review because of a recent petition with 156 signatures submitted to the state’s Environmental Quality Board. Petitioners want the review in order to identify the facility’s potential impacts on traffic, health and safety issues, and other concerns.
If the council chooses not to order the review, the city’s planning commission on Tuesday will consider approving the facility’s conditional-use permit.
The planning commission has until Feb. 8 to vote on the permit but is expected to move more quickly, in part because company officials have expressed a desire to open the facility this month.
“They indicated they will start to lose quite a bit of money if they don’t start hauling by Dec. 20,” Wabasha City Planner Molly Patterson-Lundgren said.
The company could lose up to $40 million in secured contracts if it can’t open before that date, said Paul Van Eijl, a company representative and Buffalo County’s former zoning administrator, in a letter to the commission.
The commission initially held off on voting until a traffic impact study could be done to determine the effects of 400 daily truck trips, but now that the process has accelerated, the study would be done after the permit is approved.
That’s made some uncomfortable.
“I would rather have a study in my hand before making final recommendations,” Patterson-Lundgren said.
Project opponents have argued that the facility’s purpose and location aren’t a good fit for the city.
“The project has the potential to radically change the nature of the city of Wabasha and its quality of life,” Wabasha resident Craig Falkum wrote in a letter included with the petition.
Officials with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, located about a half-mile from the proposed facility, have two primary concerns: air quality and truck traffic.
“We will be watching this very carefully,” said Jenny Schlagenhaft, St. Elizabeth’s director of community relations and communications.
“We’ve certainly always been a leader in our community in regards to health,” she said. “If this frac sand operation impacts that, we’re certainly going to the table to do what we can to help protect our community.”
Permit sought to increase frac sand hauling
A conditional-use permit for another frac sand loading facility was submitted Wednesday in Wabasha.
Jim Roemer, owner of Roemer Transport, is asking to increase the number of truckloads of sand to his facility, located near the railroad tracks on the west end of town. Roemer hauls about 40 truckloads a day, and would like to increase it to about 150.
Wabasha City Planner Molly Patterson-Lundgren said the city might not have time to review the application until late this month or early next year.