Planning Commission begins work on possible changes to city code regarding landfillsCloquet councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously passed an interim ordinance imposing a moratorium on new landfills in the city of Cloquet last week.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Cloquet councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously passed an interim ordinance imposing a moratorium on new landfills in the city of Cloquet last week.
Now it’s up to the members of the Cloquet Planning Commission and Community Development Director Holly Butcher to get to work on the study – also authorized by the Council Feb. 15 – considering the possibility of adopting or amending official controls relating to the need for additional land use regulations addressing landfill developments.
In plain English, commission members and city staff have to figure out if the city wants to change its laws regarding landfills – laws which are minimal and allow landfills in specific zones through the conditional use permit process – and exactly how to accomplish any desired changes.
The moratorium ordinance is effective for nine months from Feb. 24, or until the city amends its laws regulating landfill developments in Cloquet, whatever comes first.
Prior to the passage of the moratorium Feb. 15, Butcher and the Planning Commission had recommended the council enact a moratorium for a similar purpose at a public hearing June 15, 2010, prior to the application for the much-debated DemCon/Shamrock landfill (which was granted a conditional use permit last week). In June, councilors voted unanimously to work through the landfill process within the existing city code and the conditional use permit process.
“We know we have nothing in our comprehensive plan [regarding landfills], but we allow it in the zoning ordinance,” Butcher said to commission members at their Tuesday night meeting. “That’s a mismatch right there.”
After discussing ways other towns in Minnesota deal with zoning landfills and the situation with the four existing landfills – two active and two closed – in Cloquet, commission members decided to form a subcommittee to work with Butcher on researching the issue. Mark Roberts and John Sanders volunteered for that committee, which plans to begin its work by meeting with the major employers in Cloquet to determine their anticipated landfill needs.
In other matters Tuesday, the Planning Commissions discussed making changes to allowed uses in the city’s Heavy Industrial zoning district, in part referring to the dumping of dead animals and “fat rendering,” that are both allowed uses in the zoning code. Commission members also agreed with Butcher that privately-owned land surrounding the Carlton County Airport in Cloquet had been incorrectly zoned “Airport” and that she should change that zoning back to “Farm Residential.”