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Council upholds frac sand permit

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Frac Rally

Diane Leutgeb-Munson speaks as more than 50 people gathered in front of Winona City Hall to protest the expansion of the silica sand industry in Winona on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Andrew Link/Winona Daily News)

The Winona City Council voted 4-2 Monday to uphold a May decision by the city’s board of adjustment to allow a local trucking company to ship frac sand through the commercial dock.

The council attached several conditions to the original permit: City staff must regularly measure the moisture content of the sand, which must exceed 4 percent; the test results will be posted on the city’s website. And the washed sand can only be hauled from facilities operated by Steve Kohner and Bob Hemker.

Multiple council members expressed a desire to come to a decision Monday rather than tabling the issue.

“The business of frac sand, or sand, is here,” said council member George Borzyskowski. “It’s not going to go away.”

Council members Borzyskowski, Debbie White and Michelle Alexander, and Mayor Jerry Miller voted to uphold the decision. Council members Al Thurley and Gerry Krage voted against it, both saying they wanted more time to study the proposal. Deb Salyards was absent.

Four representatives from Winona Area Citizens Concerned about Sand Mining, the group that appealed the board’s decision, spoke about air and water quality issues, truck traffic and quality of life issues at a public hearing prior to the vote.

“I pray for all of us that we recognize how good our quality of life is in this beautiful community,” said Mike Kennedy, who spoke on behalf of the group. “We do not want that to be a memory.”

Representatives from trucking and frac sand-related businesses also spoke at the public hearing. Winona Area Chamber of Commerce president Della Schmidt read a statement supporting the permit for CD Corp.

“Business owners should have a reasonable confidence that if they meet these regulations and these conditions, their business operations will be allowed to proceed,” Schmidt said.

Before the meeting, protesters gathered at the base of Winona’s interstate bridge, including Linda Bowey of Winona and her three children. Six-year-old Kathleen and 5-year-old James held signs with the slogans “Save our city” and “No frac sand.”

“It’s bad for the world,” Kathleen said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that sand shipped at the commercial dock must have a moisture content of less than 4 percent.


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