Minnesota River quarry idea sparks debate

(Photo courtesy of Anne Queenan)

A proposal to quarry granite along the Minnesota River on the state's western border is generating debate in Big Stone County.

North Dakota-based Strata Corporation wants to turn the granite into stone aggregate for concrete, asphalt and other construction materials. Officials at the Grand Forks company say there is a severe shortage of aggregate in the construction industry.

A group of nearby residents argue the site about two miles southeast of Ortonville should be left as it is.

The above photo shows some of the land included in the proposed quarry area. Residents are concerned the development would have a variety of bad consequences, including lowering nearby property values, hurting wildlife and harming the Minnesota River's tourism potential in the area. They're also worried about environmental damage, wondering if the quarry will hurt surface and ground water supplies.

The Big Stone County Planning Commission will continue a hearing on the issue Thursday evening in the town of Clinton. A previous session in early January drew a full house, about 75 people.

It's not known if the commission will make a recommendation on the issue Thursday. But no matter what side of the debate they eventually come down on, the matter will go to the full county board.

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