Superior Silica Sands reverses stance, looking to come to North Branch

The city of North Branch received a letter from Superior Silica Sands July 9 stating that the sand fracking business has reneged on the decision it made last month to not build a trans-loading station for frac sand in North Branch’s ESSBY Business Park.

At that time, Superior Silica Sands President and CEO Rick Shearer said concern from area residents about truck traffic leaving the potential facility, which would be about 200-250 trucks per day in the second phase of the build out, was a factor in the business pulling the project.

Residents of North Branch and Taylors Falls were most concerned about the traffic.

Taylors Falls city officials said the traffic would have a negative impact on the summer tourism in the area.

The city of North Branch has been working to remedy that concern.

“(Superior Silica Sands) is interested in moving forward,” North Branch City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said. “We are working with them on alternate truck routes to keep the traffic out of Taylors Falls during busy summer months. We are working through those details and trying to put together a draft development agreement.”

Konrad said an alternative truck route, which the city has been working on with the county, has not yet been identified.

Under the original purchase proposal between the city and Superior Silica Sands, the business wanted to close on the ESSBY land for the trans-loading station Aug. 1, but Konrad said the closing would likely now be pushed out to Sept. 1 to accommodate for a series of public meetings before the North Branch Economic Development Authority would look to sell the land. The schedule for those meetings is still being determined, but the first will likely be in early August. The dates and times of the meetings will be posted on the city’s website.

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