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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Board approves conditional use permit for feedlot near church

  • “Since ‘99 I have been associated with planning and zoning. The basic premise behind the ordinance is not to promote hog production, not to stop it, but to control it. Watonwan county chose a half mile set back. What’s really neat about Watonwan County’s ordinance is that it was tested, legally, by the...
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  • The Watonwan County Board met Friday, March 22, for their regularly scheduled meeting. They were met by 18 citizens of Watonwan County who were either for, or against two conditional use permits that would allow feedlots to be constructed and operated in Watonwan County.
    Feedlot number one was applied for by Chad and Brook Lange. A similar feedlot conditional use permit was applied for and denied by the Watonwan County Board near the East Sveadahl Lutheran Church last summer. The new proposed barn is set to be built 4,764 feet west of the church and 2,750 feet away from the nearest residence and would hold more than 700 animal units.
    Residents who attend East Sveadahl Lutheran Church discussed their reasons for not wanting the barn to be built with the commissioners. Here are some things the opponents of the barn had to say:
    “Under certain conditions odor emissions have been known to effect neighbors and communities at distances of a mile or more from the odor source.”
    “I’m concerned that the church will end up sandwiched between hog facilities.”
    “I think it would only be fair to us for the county commissioners to list their reasons if they choose to accept this proposed permit.”
    Many of the opponents of the barn felt it would be a good idea to invest in biofilters, should the barn be built, to help block some of the smell.
    Their concern was also with the healthiness of living near a feedlot.
    The planning commission had approved the permit for conditional use by a vote of 7-0 earlier that week. The commissioners voted and passed the conditional use permit unanimously with Commissioner Kathleen Svalland abstaining from the vote. The Watonwan County Commissioners would allow the barn to be built with the conditions that the barn use pit additive to cut down on the smell from the barn, that no manure would be spread on Sundays from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15 and that the Lange’s would notify the church within 72 hours of application from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15 and environmental services officers will physically go out and inspect the lot regularily.
    Prior to voting, the commissioners took a moment to state their reasons for supporting the conditional use permit. Here were some of their responses:
    “I understand the importance of livestock and we’ve been through a few of these and it’s been brutal,” said Commissioner Ray Gustafson.
    “Biofilters are 90-95 percent effective in covering that odor. I’m going to encourage my fellow commissioners to pass this with the condition of a biofilter.”
    “I’m not adverse to the biofilter,” said Commissioner Dave Holmgren. “But I would passs this with the conditions that it has.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “I agree with the biofilter part, I guess I wish there was one that was a little closer that we could go and inspect.” said Commissioner Mark Rentz. “I’d like to have it on the conditional use permit that if there was an order complaint from [the church] an environmental services officer would go out to see a full dose of pit additive go into the pit.”
    “Since ‘99 I have been associated with planning and zoning,” said Commissioner Scott Sanders. “The basic premise behind the ordinance is not to promote hog production, not to stop it, but to control it. Watonwan county chose a half mile set back. What’s really neat about Watonwan County’s ordinance is that it was tested, legally, by the Supreme Court in 2001, and the decision the Supreme Court said that a half mile set back is adequate to deal with health concerns and odor concerns.”
    The second conditional use permit was applied for by Jeff, Jordan and Austin Maloney for a barn that would be located in section 24 near South Branch Township. The proposed facility would hold more than 700 animal units.
    The county commissioners received a 27 signature petition against the construction of the feed lot from residents who live near the proposed lot location. The main concern of the opponents of the Maloney lot is that the filters and additives may cover the smell, but would still pose a health risk for individuals with allergies, because the particles could still escape without the smell.
    Opponents submitted a large amount of paperwork to support their claims and also read a multiple page document containing reasons the feedlot should not be built. One additional reason was concern for improper drainage into a wetland, and the diminishing wetlands in the area.
    With the large amount of paperwork submitted, commissioners voted to table the proposed permit until that time in which they could look through the paperwork and make an informed decision. The Watonwan County Commissioners will vote on the Maloney feed lot at the first April meeting.
    Other Business:
    Accepted a bid from Freeborn County Cooperative for dust control materials at 77 cents per gallon.
    Accepted contract with Prahm Construction to replace Bridge #4795 on County Highway 32.
    Voted to keep chloride spreading charges at $80 per 100 feet.
    Revised the drug policy for TMT drivers to include some “cosmetic changes.”
    Raised fares for TMT riders from ten tokens for $10 to eight tokens for $10, by a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Sanders and Holmgren against.
    Approved advance of $36,000 to the Soil and Water Department after receiving a total request for $64,000. Only $36,000 was allocated for Soil and Water for 2013.
    Approved April 6 date for sale of county furniture at the Watonwan County fair grounds.

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