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Blue Earth wary of moratorium

March 8, 2011
Jodelle Greiner — Staff Writer

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth City Council wants to make sure a proposed pipeline moratorium in Faribault County will not hurt the city or its businesses.

The council has been asked to send a letter of support for the moratorium to county commissioners, who have set a public hearing on the matter for March 17.

Buffalo Lake Energy, an ethanol plant in Fairmont, has submitted an application to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to build a pipeline to discharge wastewater directly into the Blue Earth River in Faribault County. The company currently discharges the water into Center Creek in Fairmont, but the Pollution Control Agency won't allow this any longer because the creek sometimes runs dry.

"We have no ordinances at all in the county dealing with wastewater," Commissioner John Roper told council members Monday.

He said the pipeline will only affect wastewater, and not be applicable to drainage or storm sewers. He also said the moratorium could not apply just to ethanol plants.

Mayor Rob Hammond wanted to know how the moratorium would affect the city or businesses in Blue Earth that might want to build a pipeline while the moratorium is in effect, which could be one or two years.

"I don't want unintended consequences," Hammond said.

Roper said the city and airport have jurisdiction in their areas.

"The river is the only natural resource we have in this area. We have to be careful with it," said Councilman Glenn Gaylord, recalling that when he was a child, "everything was dead" in the river and that it has been cleaned up considerably.

In the end, the council voted to send a letter supporting the moratorium, "with the understanding it would not affect any businesses in the city," Hammond said.

Turning to other business, the council discussed a draft ordinance related to securing vacant buildings.

City Attorney David Frundt explained changes to the draft, such as that in order for a building to be classified as vacant it would have to have all of its utilities turned off. Also, if a property is deemed vacant, its listed price would have to be within 10 percent of its assessed value.

The council told Frundt to make additional changes and present the draft at the next meeting.

In other action, the council:

o Approved $9,600 in repairs to the ceiling of the Faribault County Fitness Center, where the vapor barrier is crumbling. Revenues from the fitness center will pay for the repairs. The contractor is Sports Interiors Inc. of Prairie View, Ill.



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