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Winona Council to take stand Monday on frac sand monitoring

WIINONA — Frac sand and semitrailers.

While issues surrounding the two typically go hand-in-hand these days, the Winona City Council is going to take them on separately at its regular meeting Monday by deciding whether the city will officially support frac sand regulations that include fenceline air monitoring at all facilities, and whether the council wants to get rid of parking along Sugar Loaf Road near Super 8.

The city council has expressed verbal support for fenceline air monitoring at silica sand facilities to ensure the quality of air — at the last council meeting members told staff to write up a resolution saying they support the state's efforts in regulating the industry.

The resolution, which comes to the council Monday, says the city "supports the development of state regulations requiring air monitoring at the fenceline of existing and new silica sand facilities."

The sentiment aligns with what the council has previously said. In a February 2013 resolution, the city council said it "requests and supports immediate state action to establish and enforce state standards related to the frac sand industry" specifically concerning air monitoring, water quality, and infrastructure impacts.


The newest resolution is coming up now because of two reasons. One is that during an October meeting, the city council heard from representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency who said although there aren't health issues related to silica sand according to air-monitoring results recorded from the top of the YMCA, the state Environmental Quality Board has recommended air monitoring at the fenceline of all facilities.

The second reason is because the MPCA has written up what ideas and concepts they'd like to include in silica sand regulations — such as fence line air monitoring — and are looking for input from residents and cities.

The council will also consider a parking issue. When semi drivers stay at the Super 8 along Hwy. 61 in Winona, they tend to park on Sugar Loaf Road.

City staff see that as a problem because the road isn't wide enough to accommodate such large vehicles and sometimes a part of the semi blocks a portion of the road lane. On top of that staff say the practice is damaging the grass along the road and "will lead to a severely damaged boulevard," according to the city council's Monday agenda.

So staff recommends eliminating parking along that section of the road, a request that will come before the council Monday.

Super 8 staff said that would affect business, because the semi drivers would have nowhere else to park. The hotel is on top of a hill just below the bluff that most trucks can't climb.

"It's too hard for them to get into the parking lot," Super 8 employee Nicole Bendickson said. "I think it'll affect our business with semi drivers because if they don't have a place to park, I'm sure they'll go somewhere else."

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