Police called to frac sand meeting: Board OKs changes to sand shipper’s permit after rowdy public hearing

2012-12-06T00:00:00Z 2013-02-14T12:25:52Z Police called to frac sand meeting: Board OKs changes to sand shipper’s permit after rowdy public hearingBy Mary Juhl mary.juhl@winonadailynews.com Winona Daily News
December 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A city of Winona Board of Adjustment hearing grew so heated and out of control Monday that officials called the police on one frac sand opponent.

At the two-hour hearing, in which the board eventually approved changes to a company’s permit to allow it to ship more frac sand out of Winona’s port, the board struggled to keep speakers on topic and several people repeatedly violated hearing guidelines.

Tensions escalated when James Johnson of Winona continued to ask general questions about the city’s moratorium, which was not the topic of discussion, after being asked repeatedly to keep his comments to the issue at hand. City building official Steve Carson told Johnson he would push the button under the council table that summons the police if Johnson didn’t finish his comments and then sit quietly.

Winona resident Jim Gurley at one point also refused to keep his comments directed to the proposed changes to the permit, and assistant city planner Carlos Espinosa asked him several times to stick to the subject.

“We’re getting way off topic here,” Espinosa said. “You need to be done.”

“This is the topic!” Gurley said.

“Hit the button, get him out of here,” Espinosa said to Carson.

An officer arrived at city hall, but no citations were issued.

Speakers who opposed altering the permit expressed concerns about dust, health, truck traffic and environmental factors. Speakers in favor of the changes pointed to the potential economic growth the expansion could create.

Many of the 30 or so attendees continued to interrupt the board after the public hearing was closed, shouting “Can’t hear!” and other comments at staff and board members. By the end of the meeting, about half of the attendees had left city hall.

The amended conditional-use permit will allow CD Corp. to double the number of barges hauling sand each month, from 24 to 48, and decrease sand moisture content requirements from 4 percent to 1.5 percent. According to CD Corp. co-owner Dan Nisbit, the company won’t necessarily use the maximum number of barges. Nisbit said the changes will give his company more flexibility if the shipping demand exists.

“It’s our job to change with the times or fall behind other cities that are up and down the Mississippi River,” Nisbit said.

According to city staff, the port has already handled higher traffic than CD Corp.’s increase in the past. In 2002, 1,647 barges shipped product through the port, and staff estimates that if CD Corp. used 48 barges each month, the annual total would be about 1,403 barges. In 2002, traffic to the port resulted in an increase in about 515 trucks per day on Riverview Drive. CD Corp.’s increase, at maximum, would bring about 438 trucks per day.

The board voted 4-0 to approve the new permit, with chairman Chris Sanchez abstaining. Board member Jeremy O’Laughlin was not present, and there is one vacancy on the board.

The board’s decision can be appealed until Dec. 17.

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. 350
    Report Abuse
    350 - December 06, 2012 2:20 pm
    Chippewa and Maiden Rock are seeing a lot of citizens come in from other states and other countries. That is why the crime rate seems to be rising in those areas ---too many people from all over, who don't bring families with them. EOG, I am told, fired all of their American electricians once the plant was built, but kept most of the imports. Unless one owns a mining property - that truck driving job will cost more than most of us can afford in the long run, but at least the strip clubs and bars will have more business. I don't know how the city council sleeps at night.
  2. 350
    Report Abuse
    350 - December 06, 2012 2:16 pm
    Well in Buffalo County, a strip bar had an application for a big expansion approved. We know that business will expand. I am not sure this is something Fountain City? should celebrate. Still, County Board rep Faye P. helped push for an 80 day or zero moratorium extension - knowing that there are few conditions in place to protect citizens. Badger and twentysome other mines are just waiting to come across the river to Winona. That Board is clueless or compromised to violate the moratorium so flagrantly.
  3. 350
    Report Abuse
    350 - December 06, 2012 2:11 pm
    Well Ms. Liz, let's hope your friends aren't making payments on a new sand truck. This kinds of outfits go for a while and then quit until the prices go back up or the supply decreases enough to drive the price back up. What that means is that there are dozens of drivers north of Chippewa - who are looking for jobs right now,, because they were laid off. This dandy frac sand business is much like gambling. Only a few people really win. The rest of lose very big.
  4. easy
    Report Abuse
    easy - December 06, 2012 1:26 pm

    how many?
  5. Liz
    Report Abuse
    Liz - December 06, 2012 11:49 am
    Hey Easy, you really think all these "truck drivers" are being shipped in from maybe,New York? I know of quite a few "local" truck drivers that are hauling frac sand.
  6. Sonny
    Report Abuse
    Sonny - December 06, 2012 9:35 am
    Does someone pay the city for the number of trucks that dump there? Does the city get money for the number of barges that use the docks, or are they paid by the ton? The city must make some money from this don't they?
  7. easy
    Report Abuse
    easy - December 06, 2012 8:33 am
    “It’s our job to change with the times or fall behind other cities that are up and down the Mississippi River,” Nisbit said.
    * * * * * * * *

    Please someone tell me what benefits the city and/or citizens of Winona will see from this increased truck and barge traffic. The Port Authority gets to say MORE TONS of product moved through the port. They will then congratulate themselves for their efforts. Does that translate into any real gains, in any way?

    More jobs (besides truck drivers that will live and buy elsewhere)? How many jobs, what salaries? Be specific!

    What else? Increased sales at local businesses, or restaurants, or motels?

    In this regard, I don't think I'd mind "falling behind" those other river towns.
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