As of right now, there isn’t a purchase agreement in place for Superior Silica Sand to buy a parcel of land in North Branch’s ESSBY Business Park, but Superior and the city are working toward one, and a purchase could be made by sometime in July, North Branch City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said.
“Staff has met with them a few times, and we have a signed letter of intent with them,” Konrad said.
Superior is a frac sand mining company, and it is looking to set up a trans-loading station at the ESSBY location; no sand mining would be done there.
Before a sale of the land would occur, possibly in July, Konrad noted there would be multiple opportunities for the public to learn about Superior’s proposal.
Konrad said the council is discussing having an open house, and there are required public hearings before a sale of the land could occur.
At the Economic Development Authority level, since it’s the entity that owns the land, Konrad said there would be a public hearing when the land is sold, and there would be another public hearing at the Planning Commission when the lot is divided.
Superior is looking to build five silos, and if the business needs a variance for that, another public hearing would be required.
Konrad said Superior would like to have the first phase of its operation running by October. During phase 1, 27 trucks would be making four trips a day from the trans-loading station to Superior’s mining facility near Baron, Wis.
“That’s a little over 100 trips per day,” Konrad said.
She said that traffic might head through downtown at the intersection of County Road 30 and Highway 95.
But during phase 2 of the build out, there would be 200-250 semitrailer trips per day, which would possibly mean a bypass, likely paid for by Superior, would need to be constructed so all that truck traffic wouldn’t be heading through downtown North Branch.
“Where that bypass is going to be, I can’t tell you right now,” Konrad said, but she noted it could end up being along 400th Street.
As far as hours of operation go for Superior, Konrad said that hasn’t been figured out yet, but she said the business would not be operating at night; it would not be a 24/7 facility.
She also added Superior was initially interested in purchasing 40 acres of land in the park, but North Branch would likely sell them less land than that because the city would like to keep part of the area open to potential future businesses that would like to access the rail line that passes through the park.
She noted Taylors Falls is concerned about the impact the traffic could have on tourism in the quaint St. Croix River valley town.
“(Superior) is trying be accommodating and understand the concerns about tourism that Taylors Falls has,” she said. “We’ll try to work around those concerns, too.”