Duininck Lawsuit/Renville County 29 Aug 12

A lawsuit filed against Renville County by Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, could have statewide implications for determining when environmental assessment worksheets must be completed for the expansion of gravel pits.

The West Central Tribune reports the Renville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday with their attorney for environmental issues, Scott Anderson of Minneapolis, to develop the county’s response to the lawsuit now before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Duininck Inc. requested a conditional use permit earlier this year to expand a 39-acre gravel pit in Section 1 of Sacred Heart Township.

The company indicated it wanted to expand the gravel pit, known as the Molenaar site, by five acres to 44 acres.

The Renville County Environment and Community Development office told the company that expanding the existing site over the 40-acre threshold would necessitate the completion of an environmental assessment worksheet.

The company expressed its view that the worksheet should not be required for expanding an existing pit from 39 acres to 44 acres.

Based on the county’s understanding of state rules, an environmental assessment worksheet would be needed to expand the site, according to Anderson. The 40-acre size is a trigger for a worksheet in the same way that an application for a barn to hold more than 1,000 animal units would trigger an environmental review, he told the Board of Commissioners.

The court has agreed to hear the case, even though Duininck Inc. has been able to continue mining the site.

If Duininck Inc. prevails in this case, it is likely that many other gravel pits across the state could be expanded incrementally without the need for environmental review, according to the attorney.

Both sides are submitting written materials for the court, which will likely hear oral arguments early next year.