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Roberts Village Board tackles U.S. Mineral project

Monday evening's board meeting began with President Willard Moeri presenting departing board members Rand Waughtal and Peter Tharp with Certificates of Appreciation and thanking them for their service to the community of Roberts.

"With that said, I'd also like to congratulate the three successful winning candidates -- Nate Stork, Marge Wolske and Terry Dull," he said.

The majority of the evening's discussion was devoted to U.S. Mineral's site plan and developer's agreement.

Jason Raverty of Stevens Engineering presented site plan drawings illustrating the plant layout. Board member Peter Tharp asked Bruce Haslerud, owner of this project and a similar operation in Woodbury, Minn., to give the board a "brief description of what exactly is going to be done at this plant."

Haslerud explained that his company, ATI Black Diamond, recycles coal slag generated from coal burning power plants, into blasting granules used in roofing shingles, sand blasting and as filler in asphalt.

Angi Goodwin explained the Plan Commission recommendations formulated at its April 5 meeting including; the need for a variance to account for the height of the multiple silos planned for the property, a recommendation to screen all four sides of the storage facility, and a recommendation that several specific areas with heavy truck traffic be hard surfaced with asphalt or concrete as opposed to gravel.

Also, according to Goodwin, although the plan has adequate capacity to meet storm management requirements, the commission recommended a redesign of one of the storage areas to better accommodate wetland issues.

With regard to the developer's agreement, Goodwin addressed two central issues, the first dealing with water usage at the property and the second involving street standards as they pertain to the project site. With regard to the treatment of 70th Street and the driveway to the facility, the commission recommended wording that requires U.S. Mineral to meet the existing village street standard.

Prior to approving both the site plan and developer's agreement, Moeri asked U.S. Mineral representatives to explain several previous OSHA violations the company has dealt with.

Jason Vukas, a vice president with U.S. Mineral, explained that the violations in question centered on "respiratory protection from dust particle exposure to employees that occurred at a plant in Baldwin, Ill. in 2008." A court settlement resolved the issues by changing elective safety regulations into mandatory regulations and insuring that new air quality equipment be installed properly.

Both Vukas and Hasleurd noted this operation was not connected to Hasleurd's operation in Woodbury, which has operated for 30 years with a spotless safety record. Both the plan and agreement were approved, including the Plan Commission's recommendations and contingent on a final review by counsel Bill Radosevich.

In other action, the board unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Chippewa Concrete Service. The primary issue with the temporary facility is water usage. John Bond, public works director, felt that demand on the village water supply would be minimal because the project incorporates holding tanks that would satisfy the majority of their demand. Those tanks would be refilled at night when the village's usage is at its lowest.

Police Chief Dan Burgess reported that a lead from the St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force led to coordinated forces from his department along with members of the Sheriff's Department and the River Falls Police Department executing a search warrant that resulted in several arrests for the illegal sale of prescription drugs. The chief also solicited advice from the board regarding what initiatives to pursue relating to the federally funded Safe Routes to School Program. The board advised him to consult with Hammond authorities since it is a joint program. Likely operations would include the repainting of Division Street to accommodate an additional pedestrian walking lane. Willard expressed concern with regard to adding an additional lane.

"My concern is the liability to the village," he said. "I don't want us to be affected by it."

Bond added the cost of such a project would run approximately $1,300 dollars.

Bond reported that the department located and repaired the water main leak after the loss of a half million gallons of water, though no actual surface leak occurred. He also reported this is the earliest the village has finished street sweeping in many years as the result of mild weather and less debris on the street, all of which saved the village money. The plan is to sweep the streets again just prior to Good Neighbor Days.

Moeri alerted board members to the fact that the stretch of property south of Highway 12, from the strip mall to Lakes Gas, has been planted with oats and hay despite the fact that it is residentially zoned property. Residents might expect to see a combine working that land at some point this season.

Board member Katy Kapaun updated the board on the legal issue concerning the automatic doors at the library. She explained the library is considering hiring a structural engineer to determine what their next step should be.