North Branch Mayor Ron Lindquist made it very clear at Monday’s City Council meeting that he and other officials from North Branch will be trying to convince Superior Silica Sands to renege on its decision to not build a trans-loading station in the city’s ESSBY Business Park.
Superior Silica Sands had been working closely with North Branch on plans for the facility but sent a letter to the city May 30 noting the business was no longer interested in the site.
Superior Silica Sands President and CEO Rick Shearer told the Post Review June 2 that a driving factor in the decision to nix the project was concern about truck traffic from residents in both North Branch and Taylors Falls.
Lindquist said the business would have a large financial impact on North Branch and it’s worthwhile to try and lure Superior Silica Sand to North Branch.
“If we don’t get this (project), the financial impact on the 2015 levy, the net impact, is a 5.93 percent increase on our levy if it doesn’t come in,” Lindquist said, referencing numbers given to him by North Branch Finance Director Richard Hill.
He added: “It reduces principal debt on bond by $1,180,000. It increases the tax base for the city by $1,650,000. This eliminates a large portion of a 2022 bond balloon payment requirement, if this goes through. We have to look at this, folks.”
Lindquist said he, City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad, Council Member Joyce Borchardt, North Branch Economic Development Authority member Bob Streater and Chisago County EDA member Jim Stein already met with Taylors Falls Mayor Michael Buchite and Vice Mayor Ross Rivard to talk about the possibility of building a bypass so sand frac trucks wouldn’t go through Taylors Falls.
“If we have a bypass in, they have no problem.”
Lindquist noted the state would have to be involved in building a bypass.
“I think a bypass is on the slate for 2016 for looking at that and fixing up Highway 8 and so on and so forth,” he said.
He added that he and other officials will be meeting Monday with officials from Superior Silica Sand.
“This project is not dead at this time,” he said.
Laurie Warner, who is running for the District 32B state representative seat against incumbent Bob Barrett, was the only resident to address the mayor’s comments about Superior Silica Sands during the public comment period at the end of the meeting.
“There is going to be development that comes and goes in this community, as it does in every community,” she said, stressing that she believes a sand frac trans-loading station would adversely affect home values in North Branch. “We cannot take every development that comes this way without have proper scrutiny about what it means for us long term.”