Amid fears that it might lead to contaminated groundwater, an environmental review has been ordered for the site near Jordan.
After months of review, debate and controversy, the Scott County Board is ordering an environmental review of a proposed gravel pit near Jordan.
Opponents, including members of the Jordan City Council, say the pit could create danger from flooding, groundwater contamination, road damage and air pollution.
The gravel pit would be on 80 acres just outside of Jordan near Hwy. 169. Once mining is complete more than 20 years from now, it would be turned into a large pond.
The board voted to require the developer, Jordan Aggregates Mining, to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) to address "significant environmental impacts" of the proposed pit, such as contamination of the groundwater and flooding at Sand Creek, considered one of the most polluted waterways in Minnesota.
"I'm pleased that the Scott County Board has chosen to require the environmental impact statement," said Jordan City Council Member Thom Boncher. "I think it's a good thing that they're willing to acknowledge that problems exist, and more information is needed before taking further action."
Scott County officials said this is only the third time in the past 25 years or more that the board has asked for an environmental impact study of this type.
Lisa Kohner, the county spokeswoman, said the other occasions involved the construction of the Bloomington Ferry Bridge in the 1990s and a proposed amphitheater that was never built.
The EIS, which could cost about $75,000, could take as long as nine months to complete. Once that is done, the county and the developer would negotiate over any conditions the county might attach to a permit.
Steve Hentges, who is developing the proposed gravel pit, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
County Commissioner Joe Wagner, whose district includes Jordan, said he thought worries about water pollution were the County Board's biggest concern.
Wagner said the board months ago was probably leaning toward approving a permit for the gravel pit without an EIS. But the concerns raised about the possible groundwater contamination prevailed.
"Air quality is one thing," Wagner said, "but water is a different thing. When you can have some [possible] groundwater contamination, you have to look at that."
He said another big concern was the almost-annual flooding at Sand Creek and the possibility that it could seep into the mine pond and result in contamination of the area's water table.
"That is one of the sad things about Sand Creek. It is a contaminated creek," said Wagner, who abstained from voting on the EIS because he has property abutting the proposed pit.
Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994