Andover approves permit for black dirt storage

The Andover City Council Jan. 15 unanimously approved a request by a property owner to store 3,000 cubic yards of black dirt on the east side of Hanson Boulevard and about a half-mile north of 161st Avenue.

Dennis Kuiken received a conditional use permit (CUP) from the council on Jan. 17, 2012 to store 11,000 cubic yards of shredded tires on his property on the east side of Hanson Boulevard at 16563 Hanson Blvd. N.W. The Anoka County Highway Department needed these shredded tires for fill under Hanson Boulevard. This CUP required all this material to be removed by July 1, 2012.

When Hanson Boulevard was torn up for the overlay project last year, Kuiken had the opportunity to get sand, so he obtained a CUP from the council on April 17, 2012 to store 10,000 cubic yards of sand.

Kuiken said the sand was potentially going to be used as fill for an access road to get to landlocked properties east of Hanson Boulevard. The city considered purchasing 10 acres from Kuiken and 40 acres from James Selmer and Hazel Blanchette in this area under its open space preservation program. But because of the amount of wetland mitigation that would have been required on the potential road easement, the city has dropped its pursuit of these properties for now.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, Kuiken said he had thought the Nov. 2, 2012 deadline to remove the sand would be too soon, but luckily he was able to sell it to North Pine Aggregate.

At that time, Kuiken had the opportunity to get dirt from North Pine when it was hauling back and forth. His plan was to create a berm to block his equipment from the view of Hanson Boulevard traffic, but when he found out he was getting black dirt, he decided to stockpile it and sell it. He said his brother had built a berm without a permit and he thought he was meeting the city’s requirements.

“I should have called to check anyway, but I didn’t,” Kuiken said.

Community Development Director David Carlberg said the city requires a CUP when more than 400 cubic yards of fill is being stockpiled.

Kuiken said he would grade out the area in the spring so it looks nice and said the black dirt being stockpiled may be gone by the end of next year, but he requested a deadline of July 1, 2014 just in case.

Councilmember Julie Trude was the only one who had voted against Kuiken’s previous CUP request to stockpile the shredded tires because she was concerned about the safety of the community by having all this flammable material in one location. The tires were split into separate piles and other precautions were taken to meet the Andover fire chief’s orders.

In this case, Trude said she was not worried about safety, but was concerned about aesthetics.

“Maybe it’s something we should be regulating better because it’s more the appearance to people driving through the community when it’s all lined up like that along the road,” Trude said. “But it does seem to go with this line of work.”

Trude said there are a lot of sod farms in the area, so she wondered whether they need CUPs.

Carlberg said sod farms are permitted uses in agricultural areas just like vegetable farms are permitted. The stockpiling of dirt of more than 400 cubic yards required a CUP, but it is not required for the sites they bring the fill to.

Carlberg said the city is looking at setting up an interim use permit application process, which can be processed quicker.

“I think it will be a lot easier in the future to come in for land reclamation, mining, stockpiling once we get into the interim use permit regulations,” Carlberg said.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]