RED WING — Goodhue County is getting down to the final steps of its solid waste designation ordinance, part of the county's overall plan to enter the closed landfill agreement with the state.

On a 3-2 vote, with newly sworn-in Commissioner Linda Flanders voting with the majority, the board agreed to submit its draft ordinance to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for review. Commissioners Barney Nesseth and Jason Majerus voted no. 

"It's going to be hard for some of the haulers on the edges to make it financially feasible," said Nesseth of the ordinance, which institutes a requirement that all the trash generated in Goodhue County be delivered to Red Wing, rather than to facilities in neighboring counties that might be nearer or charge cheaper disposal rates. Other counties, including Olmsted County, have similar types of requirements, put in place to minimize exposure to claims for environmental remediation.

Nesseth made the claim that 50 percent of the cost increase of the solid waste hauling plan and closed landfill designation will be paid by 27 percent of the county's residents. Those residents, he said, are the ones who will pay higher hauling and tipping fees than they've been paying. 

Nesseth said in addition to the longer distance haulers from western Goodhue County will need to move trash to the waste sorting center and closed landfill in Red Wing, many haulers in the western and central portions of the county are used to paying $56 per ton in tipping fees. Under the waste haulers agreement that is part of the solid waste ordinance, that fee will go to $108 per ton.

"That's where the big increase comes in," Nesseth said. 

Majerus said he objected to a potential $10,000-a-day fine for haulers that do not follow the ordinance. Majerus asked if haulers that break the rules will face a hefty fine. 

"Yes," said County Public Works Director Greg Isakson, "This is if someone is constantly thumbing their nose at the ordinance." 

County Attorney Steven O'Keefe said the eventual penalty would be levied by a judge, but the $10,000 fine maximum is part of the state statute. 

The MPCA will have a 90-day review of the draft ordinance, and if approved by the MPCA, will come back to the county so it can give haulers a 60-day notice of implementation. 

If the MPCA makes any changes or adds any conditions to the ordinance, it would need to be approved again by the county board before notification is sent to haulers. 

Water protection

In other business, the county heard from Land Use Director Lisa Hanni, who updated the board on compliance of landowners to implement buffer strips along waterways in Goodhue County. 

Hanni said letters for corrective action were sent in December 2018 to 37 landowners concerning 43 parcels. Those letters explained that landowners had until Nov. 1 to come into compliance without a penalty. A final reminder was sent to 21 landowners (24 parcels) on Sept. 25.

As of Nov. 13, 14 landowners (18 parcels) were not compliant, Hanni said, but seven said they will take action yet this fall to become compliant and two said they had already seeded their buffers. That will be verified in the spring. 

That, she said, leaves five landowners who have made no efforts to become compliant under the buffer law.

"On the letters, we were really specific," Hanni said. "We tell them what their parcel is. We give them examples, we've given them (aerial) photos of what we've seen."

Those five landowners, she said, could be facing fines of $50 per month for the first six months and $200 per month for each additional month, she said. 

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