Dakota County UMore Mining Operation OK'd Despite Pollution Concerns

After numerous public meetings, Rosemount City Council approves mining permit on 5-0 vote.

Editor's note: UMore Park isn't just a Rosemount thing. It's a Dakota County thing with implications for Lakeville and surrounding communities.

After nearly an hour and a half hours of discussion, and more than two years of planning and public input, Rosemount's City Council on Dec. 18 approved the development of a large-scale mining operation at UMore Park.

It wasn’t an easy decision for Rosemount, with staff and council members sifting through hundreds of pages of documents and reports as the council analyzed the benefits of allowing Dakota Aggregates, a partnership of Cemstone Products Company and Ames Construction, to develop a mining operation at the University of Minnesota-owned UMore Park site.

(Other Patch coverage: , Local Residents Revolt at UMore Park Meeting)

“This is something that is going to make an impact 30 years, 40 years down the road,” said Rosemount Council Member Mark DeBettignies. “I see this as an investment; it’s a win-win situation. I see the potential of what can happen by putting it back on the tax rolls of the city, the development of jobs, schools, businesses, the infrastructure that will outly that ... giving the city a say in how that land will be developed in the future.”

Dakota Aggregates plans to mine nearly 200 million tons of gravel and sand from approximately 900 acres on the western edge of the 5,000-acre UMore Park in the Rosemount and Empire townships. Rosemount City Planner Eric Zweber said the 900 acres will be split into five different sections.

A mining buffer will protect and shield residential areas from dust and noise created by the mining operation. Zweber said residents would see mining begin in 2013 along the southern part of the area, with mining in the northern part, where truck traffic would use County Road 42, anticipated to begin in 2014.

After several negotiations with Dakota Aggregate and the University of Minnesota, an 80-acre buffer has grown to 130 acres, with at least 1,000 feet between mining operations and the nearest residential areas. A dirt berm and tree lines will also reduce dust and noise pollution from the area.

“What the university had done as far as cooperation with the city staff, the council, the public, in moving some things around to create this atmosphere has been just wonderful,” DeBettignies said.

Residents raised concerns about dust, drinking water issues and traffic congestion from increased truck traffic along County Road 42 in several public meetings. Most of the traffic leaving the mining area will be traveling along 160th Street east to Highway 52, but the city recognizes there are concerns with truck traffic, particularly at the intersection of County Road 42 and Highway 52.

There have been frequents talks with the county about improving that intersection. Councilmember Kim Shoe-Corrigan suggested the university and Dakota Aggregates could also put pressure on entities to improve that intersection.

“This is a very serious decision we are making,” she said, “and I think we all feel the weight of it on our shoulders because we’re not only making a short-term decision, we are making a decision for councils and residents down the road and changing the landscape of our city in a really big way.”

Local resident Myron Napper spoke during public comments about worries that past contaminants from the site might seep into drinking water as the area is mined. He was also concerned about increased truck traffic along County Road 42 and Highway 52.

“I think road issues are really going to be a factor if we are going to be putting that kind of traffic out there,” he said.

Zweber said one well will monitor both shallow and deep water flowing into a lake that will be made through the dry/wet mining process along the southwestern edge of the mining facility, while four wells that will be installed by Dakota Aggregates will monitor groundwater when it reaches the five-year mark to analyze if any contaminants are in groundwater leaving the lake.

If wells in the future well field northeast of the mining operation were to run 24 hours per day, seven days per week, it would take at least 15 years for any groundwater from the lake to reach those well fields. Zweber said none of the city’s wells run that often so it would likely take much longer for any of that water to reach future wells that could be installed in the area.

Dakota Aggregates, which finalized a mining lease with the university last year, plans to mine the Rosemount UMore Park land for 25 years, followed by 15 years of mining on the Empire Township land. As part of the city’s conditions, the company is required to present an annual operating permit to Rosemount every year.

The UMore property is one of the last large properties left in the metro area with high-quality aggregate, which is used for concrete, asphalt and other products, said Shawn Dahl, vice president of real estate and aggregate development for Burnsville-based Ames Construction.


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