Public hearing set to extend solid waste moratorium

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Mower County board will vote during a public hearing at its 1 p.m. May 3 meeting whether to extend a one-year moratorium on solid waste ordinance requests to give commissioners and staff more time to finish crafting a new ordinance.

“We determined we’re going to have to do an extension on our ordinance deadline, because we won’t be done with our update,” Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The board voted unanimously to hold the public hearing at the start of the May 3 meeting.

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The county’s solid waste ordinance guides the way the county regulates the storage, transportation and disposal of solid waste. Talks and interest on landfills sparked last year after SKB Environmental acquired neighboring Veit Solid Waste Facility. SKB Environmental has said it’s looking into adding mixed municipal solid waste — or household garbage — and possibly recycling services to its Austin site, which concerned some neighbors.

Last May, the board approved a one-year moratorium on solid waste ordinance requests so it could research and update its current solid waste ordinance, which hadn’t been updated since 1992.

But the board won’t have its new ordinance done by the time the one-year moratorium expires at the end of May.

That’s why the board is likely to extend the moratorium for a year. Though the work to complete the new ordinance is unlikely to take an entire year, Reinartz said the board can only extend it once and they wanted to give enough time to be safe.

In the last year, the county has done a lot of work and research on the new ordinance. To update its ordinance, the committee has been working with officials from Sherburn County and others to discuss ideas and options for the final plan. They’ve touched on liners, land use issues, setbacks, runoff and a host of other subjects.

In March, the board voted to seek a specialist’s help as it continues its work, which is one factor driving the need for more time to complete a new solid waste ordinance. The board approved a $25,000 to $30,000 contract with Tim Kenyon of Leggette, Brashears & Graham Inc. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for work on a Statement of Need and Reasonableness — often called a SONAR — to provide background and guidance on the proposed ordinance change.

While he admitted the contract is expensive, Commission Mike Ankeny supported the plan because he said the county needs such a study to give the county a baseline and proper information to reference back to moving forward with the ordinance.

Reinartz also noted that if the county has future landfill requests, this document would help ensure they’re housed on suitable land for such projects.

“We want to get as much information as we can,” Reinartz said at a past meeting.

The work will look at the geology and hydrology of the county for looking at how the ordinance regulates landfills across the county.