The North Branch City Council decided at its May 28 meeting that more research is needed before making a decision about where and if asphalt plants should be allowed within city limits.
The council voted 4-0 — council member Trent Jensen was absent for the meeting — to enact a six-month moratorium on asphalt plants.
City Planner Ken Roberts will work with the city attorney to draft the ordinance, which will be sent to the planning commission for review before the council accepts it.
Mayor Ron Lindquist said the moratorium would give the council, city staff and other concerned parties an adequate amount of time to study the issue.
The topic was originally brought forth at the Feb. 12 and April 9 work session meetings.
Following those meetings, the Planning Commission and City Council directed city staff to create an ordinance that would establish an overlay district in the northern part of the city in which asphalt plants would be allowed.
Residents from areas around 410th Street — a residential area near where a possible asphalt plant could be located — came to commission and council meetings in force to express their concern about the possibility of having an asphalt plant near their homes.
Some of those residents were at the May 28 meeting.
Laura Scaramell said there could be losses to home values if the overlay district were allowed and an asphalt plant were subsequently constructed in the area.
“What is an asphalt plant worth to us?” she asked.
Her husband, Joe Scaramell, echoed that sentiment.
“This is our future, our values, our health,” he said.
Barbara Boelk requested the council keep asphalt plants out of the city entirely.
“I’d ask (the council) to consider the voice of the people and make the best decision for the future of North Branch,” she said. “I ask that we hold North Branch to a higher standard and not allow them in the town, period.”
Before the vote by the council, Councilmember Theresa Furman asked if the city is required by state statute to designate an area within city limits where an asphalt plant could be located.
Roberts told her no such requirement exists.
Lindquist suggested the city work with Chisago County to study locations in the county that might be the most suitable for asphalt plants. He noted the county does not have the authority to tell cities where and if they should allow businesses, but said it might be a worthwhile venture to work with the county to see if there could be a more apt location for a possible asphalt plant to be located than in the northern part of North Branch.