Several requests to the University of Iowa for studies in Winneshiek County could carry more weight if a number of organizations would consider collaborating.

At last week's meeting of the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors, Winneshiek County Conservation Director Barb Schroeder told the Board she has been in contact with the University of Iowa regarding getting some help for a master plan for the county's bike trail.

Earlier this month, Lyle Otte of the Winneshiek County Protectors told the Board his organization had contacted the University regarding conducting two separate studies on the impact of frac-sand mining in the county: one on the economic impact and the second on the health impact.

Schroeder said she thought it might make the proposal stronger if the studies could be presented as a "package deal" to the University, under the government umbrella of either Winneshiek County Conservation or the Board of Supervisors.

Schroeder explained the study would not be completed until the spring of 2015, which Board Chair John Logsdon noted would extend beyond a proposed 18-month moratorium on permits for frac-sand mining.



History

Last week, the Winneshiek County Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing, during which more than 30 area residents spoke on the issue of placing a moratorium on new permits for frac-sand mining in Winneshiek County.

The Commission passed a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to enact an 18-month moratorium to allow for further study on the issue.

At Monday's meeting, P & Z Commissioners Wendy Stevens and Donna Rasmussen offered to help the Board with research on the issue during a moratorium.

When Supervisor Dennis Karlsbroten questioned why the P&Z was passing the study along to the Board of Supervisors, Zoning Administrator Tony Phillips said part of the reason was funding.

"The Board of Supervisors has money, the P & Z doesn't. If there was interest in having a study done," said Phillips.

Stevens said, "Our intent wasn't that you five (the Supervisors) would go out and do all the research ... You meet once a week, Planning and Zoning meets once a month. We are volunteer. You are elected," said Stevens.

Stevens added she thinks the county has enough people interested in the topic to come up with a substantial study group on the issue.

"I think there's a lot of people in this county who have the county's interest at heart," said Stevens.

Supervisor Dean Thompson thanked the Commissioners for looking at the issue.

"I've heard good things about the public hearing, and that people were able to express their opinions, and that you thought about them. Thank you," said Thompson, addressing Stevens and Rasmussen.



What's next?

Schroeder said she would be glad to present the proposals via Winneshiek County Conservation and is also looking at the city as a potential partner in the studies.

"We're trying to come up with partnerships on multiple projects," she said.

The Board took no action on the moratorium recommended by the P & Z.

A discussion/decision on how to implement a frac sand mining moratorium is on the Board of Supervisors' agenda today, Tuesday, May 28, at 11:45 a.m.

The Board meets on the second floor of the Winneshiek County Courthouse.