A court hearing on Friday to challenge an order halting operations at a Houston County frac sand mine was canceled to allow both sides to work out an agreement.
The hearing scheduled before Wabasha County District Court Judge Terrence Walters was canceled less than an hour before it was scheduled to start.
“The parties are engaged in discussion to see if there are opportunities to work this out outside of the judicial arena,” said Jay Squires, the attorney representing Houston County.
The mine owners, Tracie and Michelle Erickson, along with Minnesota Sands LLC, are challenging the stop-work order issued by Houston County in July that halted frac sand operations at the mine near Rushford.
At the heart of the issue is a conditional-use permit that was granted for the mine — known as the Erickson Quarry — in 1992 for a bridge construction project.
The Ericksons bought the property in 2010 and began mining sand, assuming, they said, that the original permit still covered their work.
A one-year moratorium on frac sand mining in Houston County was approved in February. The county issued the stop-work order in July, arguing that the owners were operating outside the 1992 permit conditions, and that the permit doesn’t cover the scope of the operation or the amount of sand the owners want to mine.
Minnesota Sands is arguing that the moratorium — which prohibits new mines from opening — doesn’t specifically address the operations of existing mines.
Their attorney, Jerrie Hayes, said the order is inappropriate.
If the two parties don’t come to an agreement within 30 days, there would presumably be another hearing, Squires said.