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Proposal approved for controversial granite quarry

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The Big Stone County board has approved a controversial granite quarry proposal near Ortonville, on the western border of Minnesota.

North Dakota-based Strata Corporation wants to use the granite as construction aggregate for roads and other projects. A group of residents near the site oppose the plan. They fear the quarry will hurt wildlife populations, lower property values, and produce "bothersome" dust, among other concerns.

Big Stone County board member Wade Athey said the board considered the objections, but in the end decided Strata's proposal satisfied county requirements.

"It was a unanimous vote in favor of the project," Athey said. "Everyone felt the conditions were met."

A local township board is still trying to block the project, but Strata officials say they believe they can get past that hurdle. The quarry still needs some state and federal permits before it can open.

Quarry opponent Duane Ninneman, with the group Clean Up the River Environment, said the quarry would cause environmental and economic damage.

"It will have a direct impact on people who live close to the quarry. And that's what we've been doing from the beginning, is representing their interests," Ninneman said. "We feel that their property values are in jeopardy. And that their health and welfare, and tranquility, their way of life, is being threatened."