The Big Stone County Board of Commissioners held its own public hearing on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 PM at the Ortonville Armory. The special hearing followed deliberations already concluded by Big Stone County’s Planning and Zoning Commission in February “on the merits of Strata Corporation’s conditional use permit application”. An estimated 120 people attended Tuesday’s proceeding.
Quarry opposition organizers noted that the commissioners’ hearing had a very different feel from the hearing and meetings convened by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Tuesday’s hearing was well planned and professionally executed by the board and staff. Citizens opposed to the quarry stated that they felt welcomed, listened to, and were thanked for their participation. Citizens also stated that they finally felt that they had standing in the process.
Attending citizens passed a table staffed by county administration where each person signed in and was asked to sign up if he intended to speak. The County Commission and County Attorney filled a table at the front of the room. Three members of team Strata flanked the commissioners at 90 degrees. A podium was placed 10 feet in front of and facing the commissioners. Seating was provided in two sections facing the commission and Strata and facing the back of each presenter.
Twenty speakers took the podium in a session lasting almost three hours.
The first speaker was Wesley Herberg, friend and former business partner of Gayle Hedge, the property owner leasing the site to Strata. He spoke in support of the project and in testament to Hedge’s good character. The second speaker stated he could support the project if Strata demonstrated intent to be a “good corporate citizen” – showing a real commitment to the community.
Eighteen other citizens rose in opposition to the project with well-researched and polished presentations.
Speaker 16, Penny Tower, suggested the County Commission should look at Strata’s application like an engagement gone bad. Paraphrased, “Just because you and Strata have been dating for six years doesn’t mean you should continue into a bad marriage. Break it off now while you still can.”
Written testimony and documentary evidence may still be submitted as part of the public hearing through the County Auditor’s Office in the Big Stone County courthouse by 4PM on April 25.
Strata Corporation C.U.P.
% County Auditor
20 2nd St SE # 104
Ortonville, MN 56278
E-mail submissions are welcome. To County Auditor: email@example.com