A week earlier at the meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, by a 3-1 vote, the requirement of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for an asphalt plant operation in Silver Creek Township was approved.

A week later, at the June 25 meeting of the board – the fourth time the item came before the board – the script was flipped.

By a 3-2 vote, the board reversed a decision to require an EAW for the Valley Paving Inc. operation as part of the I-94 project cutting through Wright County.

County staff had prepared documentation for the EAW requirement, but Commissioner Charlie Borrell quickly made a motion to reject the need for an EAW. 

Commissioner Mike Potter, who wasn’t at the June 18 meeting because he was in Washington D.C. for the annual fly-in of local government officials to try to secure federal funding for local highway projects, seconded the motion.

Commissioner Mark Daleiden, who had prevented a 2-2 vote at the June 18 meeting, said he saw things from a different light given a point-of-view assessment of the location and the legal requirements.

“I spent some time this last weekend – I went over to the area and pulled up an EAW from the Minnesota website and I was able to answer a lot of those questions myself without having to do a lot of research,” Daleiden said. “I think there are a number of questions on that EAW that really are easy to answer that aren’t going serve much purpose to those residents.”

Daleiden added that he felt, due to the threshold currently required by an asphalt plant EAW, it wasn’t necessary.

Board Chair Darek Vetsch, who represents Silver Creek Township, disputed that line of thinking.

“I’m saddened to see that the amount of staff time as well as individual time that has gone into this – you spent attorneys’ time drafting this resolution in one direction only to come back and go the entire 180 (degrees in the other direction),” Vetsch said.

Vetsch asked if the item would be brought back to the July 2 board meeting – the approval/denial currently has a July 3 deadline from the state to be finalized. Borrell replied that staff had written up a positive EAW declaration in one week, it could do the same for a negative declaration the next week.

The vote passed 3-2, with Vetsch and Commissioner Christine Husom voting against the motion.

“I clearly understand that I’m going to be on the losing end of this one,” Vetsch said. “I do value the amount of people that put input into this.”

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