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Business owner seeks permit for multiple land use plans

WORTHINGTON — The Nobles County Planning Commission on Wednesday addressed a request from Mike Fogelman, owner of Mike’s Mini Excavating, to operate a home-extended business on a parcel he recently purchased near Fulda.

Fogelman sought a conditional use permit for the property at 31344 130th St., Fulda, to stockpile rock, dirt, clay, asphalt and concrete. He also wants to conduct asphalt and concrete crushing, operate an ag drainage business, provide resale of ag drainage material, operate a subsurface sewage treatment system installation business and apply household septage to MPCA-permitted land on site.

He purchased this particular site because it was available and there are a couple of gravel pits down the road.

“I thought it would be a fitting spot,” he told the commission. “I plan on being a good neighbor.”

Fogelman bought out Springman Tiling four years ago and said he initially approached the city of Fulda to buy land where the city’s water tower is located because the adjacent Springman lot wasn’t large enough.

The city wasn’t interested, however, and that sent Fogelman looking for a new location.

Nobles County Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Henderschiedt said Fogelman’s new property is adjacent to the Lone Tree Wildlife Management Area, which is owned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR submitted a letter regarding Fogelman’s request.

“Their biggest concern was the proposal for asphalt storage and asphalt and concrete crushing,” Henderschiedt said. “Their concern is the adjacent wetland to the east. Everything slopes toward the wetland and the WMA (Wildlife Management Area).”

The letter also noted concerns about the potential for petroleum distillates to leave the Fogelman property and get into the wetland. While a portion of the property is enrolled in CRP — and a wetland exists — on the Fogelman site, he told the planning commission he is not re-enrolling the land in the federal conservation program and intends to drain the wetland by adding tile. Because he is not enrolled in any farm programs, he can do what he wants with the existing wetland.

Based on the DNR’s concerns, Henderschiedt recommended Fogelman use the northwest corner of his property for asphalt crushing and storage to reduce the potential for distillates to reach the wetland.

Fogelman, however, disagreed with the DNR’s concerns and said he didn’t want to have to drive “all the way to the back of the site” to reach the stockpile. He also said he anticipates it will be small amounts of material.

“I think this is a fictitious argument with these contaminants,” Fogelman said. “What worries me is you start putting on restrictions. If it were to pollute their property, I would be the one liable anyway … for contamination of their wetland. It would be in my best interest to be a good neighbor and address it before it would be a problem.”

The commission placed two conditions on Fogelman’s request before it advances to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for final consideration. Those conditions include that Fogelman has a township road agreement clarifying damages due to traffic on the gravel, and that he provide the environmental services office with a copy of his Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permit for disposal of household septage on the site.

While there was discussion about creating a barrier of some sort or requiring stockpiles be placed in the northwest corner of the property, the commission did not list either as a condition.

Following the vote, Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz advised the commission that if there is an environmental problem on the site in the future, the group cannot add a condition to Fogelman’s permit; it needs to act based on the potential for a problem. She also said a written letter submitted to the planning and zoning office carries as much weight as if someone had attended the meeting and provided input.

Fogelman’s request will advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for consideration on Jan. 2. Kusz said the county board has the option to approve or deny the planning commission’s recommendation, but can also add or remove conditions on the permit.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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