The Watonwan County Commissioners held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 17.
All Commissioners, including Raymond Gustafson, Bill Berg, Scott Sanders, John Baerg and Mark Rentz were present.
As usual, also in attendance were County Auditor Donald Kuhlman and Administrative Assistant Lisa Schumann.
First on the agenda a discussion of the Election Canvasing Board. For the Primary Election, Friday, Aug. 17, at 9 a.m., Commissioners Berg and Gustafson will be present. For the General Election, held on Nov. 9, also at 9 a.m., Commissioners Rentz and, once again, Berg, will be present.
Next, a handwritten note from Daniel and Donna Reed was addressed. Their request was to repurchase their Lewisville property. This would allow them to continue to pay the bank mortgage at Farmers?State Bank in Madelia via the rent received from the property which is being directly deposited at the Lewisville Bank.
The note made it clear that the Reeds have already made financial arrangements and will have certified funds or cash to pay all taxes.
The request was approved by the Board.
Following this was a somewhat heated debate as Environmental Services Officer Bruce Johnson and John Schwartz, of Schwartz Farms, addressed the Board regarding an application for a Conditional Use Permit to build a new feedlot which would have 700 animal units. The purpose? A new pig farm.
Vehemently against this permit, and present, were members of East Sveadahl Church, including Lisa Shellum, Joann Jensen, Jason Braaten, among others, and Church Director of East Sveadahl Tom Anderson.
Schwartz and Johnson argued that the mile-away ordinance was met and a tree line and an air-filter would be planted and installed, respectively, in order to address the church’s issues with the construction of the hog farm.
Anderson and members of the church argued that East Sveadahl has been their home for 100 years or more. Weddings are celebrated and funerals are held to mourn the dead in the church’s cemetery.
Having a pig farm in such close proximity to the church, where smells can waft toward the church – even on a relatively calm, humid day – could drastically lower East Sveadahl’s attendance, possibly leading to the newly-renovated church’s demise.
The Board eventually took a roll call vote. Save the dissent of Commissioners Sanders and Berg (their argument being that they had to look at the application set before them, which clearly meets the conditions of the ordinances), the majority vote – the argument essentially boiling down to a just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – was to deny the request.
Therefore, the request for the Conditional Use Permit was denied...
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