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County tables approval of revised waste ordinance; Approval expected to come in May

The Mower County Board of Commissioners agreed to table its revised solid waste ordinance following a public hearing last week — but only long enough for a few tweaks and review of any changes by the county’s solid waste committee.

The county will most likely approve the new ordinance at its May 2 meeting, according to county coordinator Craig Oscarson.

“I think, overall, the meeting went well and those attending thought the ordinance was good,” he said.

About 15 attended the public hearing, held April 17. Questions circled around grandfather clauses, fee structures, and proposed rules for composting. Oscarson said it was the intent of the board not to adversely impact any existing business with the new ordinance, unless there was a true environment problem to be addressed. One business asked if the fee structure for composting might be revisited, which the board will do; Dave Hillier of Hillier’s Composting asked if a modification could be made on the weighing of loads, which by ordinance requires a scale be used. Since a scale can cost upward to $40,000, Oscarson said, the board will consider Hillier’s suggestion of measuring by volume collected via cubic yards, a much less expensive option.

On May 2, the board will most likely take three actions: approve the Statement of Needs and Reasonableness (SONAR), approve the ordinance, and approve the fee structure.

The new document is over 160 pages and has been studied and written over the past two years. Jurisdiction, licensing, transporting, abatement, storage, landfills, composting and other scenarios are all covered in the new document. Attorney Scott Anderson and consultant Dave Lucas of Sherburne County joined county staff, planning and zoning, commissioners, and members of the solid waste committee, in creating the new ordinance.

Creating a new ordinance was sparked when the county was approached by SKB Environmental, who operates two landfills in the county. The company is seeking the creation of a new landfill to handle municipal waste near Mapleview. The county did not want to address the issue until a new ordinance, that would address all issues related to landfills and solid waste, was created.