The Farmington Town Hall Meeting took place on Wednesday, September 2nd, and was called to order at 7:02 p.m. The usual things were covered such as building permits and liquor licenses, but the focus was on zoning rules, the local mine inspection, and the plans to update the Rec Park.
Figuring out zoning rules for shoreland in Farmington, St. Croix Falls and Garfield have been challenging in the last two years. Residents don’t know whether they are to follow the Polk County or town zoning rules. “We do have to follow the County’s Shoreland Rules and Subdivision Rules as our ordinance does not cover those areas,” said the Farmington Town Clerk, Debbie Swanson. However, there has been confusion because the county has had their own districts in their Shoreland Ordinance that differs from the towns’. That means that residents have to check the county’s zoning maps in addition to the towns’ to know what the rules are.
The goal is to simplify the rules such that towns that have their own zoning don’t have to follow the county’s rules, too. Polk County’s 9th District Supervisor, Kim O’Connell said that to straighten out the confusion, all Farmington needs to do is to exempt themselves from the county’s zoning rules, and that is what the Farmington Board then did. Additionally, he said that to dispel confusion, the county will be rewriting their ordinances to exempt towns that have their own zoning. “The county really shouldn’t be doing the town zoning,” O’Connell said. However, he added that runoff issues will still be handled by the DNR via the county.
Then there was discussion about what to include in the amendment to the zoning ordinance to prevent mines from opening in other areas of Farmington. O’Connell recommended the board add the word “quarrying” in addition to “mining” as it pertained to blasting. The board agreed to do so. Chairman of the Board, Dennis Cotter and O’Connell talked about adding a new 9th District that will serve as the only spot for mining in the town. This new district would be located in the same area as the existing mine, North 40 Resources, and is limited to about 80 acres. The new district will be the 34th quadrant shown in the photo below.
Annual Mine Inspection
The board shared information about their annual inspection of the North 40 Resources Mine. They said that the mine also had two federal inspections this year that covered just about everything you can think of, and they had zero citations. “I was impressed by what it looked like. One of the inspectors said it was one of the cleanest looking mines he’d been in,” Cotter said. Then board-member, Dennis Neumann, added that the dirt roads are sprayed every day there to minimize dust. Since the U.S. oil industry has been slowed, the need for frack sand has diminished, and the mine is now quarrying for river rock, field stone, and gravel instead.
Updating the Rec Park
As it turns out, Farmington has some leftover COVID-19 funds that the board has earmarked for updating the Rec Park at 4452 30th Street, or as some know it, the Old Gator Site, which was given to the town by the Air Force years ago. It is definitely overdue for a facelift and needs more usable event space. The board would like to replace the old existing building with a pavilion, add two more ball fields, public restrooms, and some improved landscaping. The board discussed getting some additional bids for the take-down and removal of the building and then said that they would like to form a committee of about five persons to guide the planning of the new site. The town clerk said that if anyone is interested to contact her by email at email@example.com.