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Watonwan County Board accepts tax levies and use permits in final 2020 meeting

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Tuesday, the Watonwan County Board met for the final time in 2020 to approve levy amounts and conditional use permits.

The board approved the 2021 tax levy that was agreed upon at the truth in taxation meeting on December 1st. The certified levy total is $635,687. The total is a 3% increase from last year. The levy includes a 22.5% decrease in county program aid.

The HRA levy came in at $103,326.

The first conditional use permit hearing was for Lakes Gas Company. Lakes Gas Company requested a 30,000 LP storage tank in Antrim-33, just south of Lewisville.

The tank would be used for normal deliveries 

At a recent public hearing, residents around the area were concerned over traffic, neighbors not being consulted before, security to neighbors, and aesthetics.

Dave Haler with Watonwan County Land Management advised the board that there wouldn't be many traffic issues with semi's and that local residents did receive letters on time. 

Included in the agreement would be a line of trees along the north and west ends of the acres used to block the view of the tank from nearby residents.

Schwartz Farms, Inc. applied for four conditional use permits, including one for a location in South Branch for an updated allowed capacity by 10%.

Currently, the hog-barn is a 3,000-head facility, and the 10% increase would only be in use of emergencies.

"They had some issues with the COVID-19 and everything and also not having a market for their hogs and having to kill off some of their hogs," said Haler.

Schwartz will be recommended to find a way to let residents near their hog barns know when manure will be pumped out of the barns by either contacting the county, sending letters to residents in the area, or by posting on their website.

Providence Pig Parlour requested to build a 3,200-head hog barn in Adrian Township. The only complaints at the public hearing were other producers who had concerns about possible disease transmission from being around 1/2 mile away from the new hog barn.

The barn will be back 300 feet from the road and will be over 1,000 feet required distance from the nearest waterway. 

All conditional use permits were approved.

Public Works Director Teal Spellman asked the board to approve a payment to Noomen Excavating LLC for the amount of $15,277.42 for the ravine and slops stabilization along CSAH-24.

The board also passed a training request for Spellman.

The final order of business from Spellman was passing two resolutions to apply for a TAPS (transportation alternatives projects) grant to construct a stage-2 trail. Spellman anticipates money for the project in 2025 will all be paid for by state grants.

The project would require a 20% local match, but due to an abundance of grants available, the match could get covered by state grants.

Other items:

- Bills General: $108,476.66

- Bills Road & Bridge: $22,744.23

- Rinne Noonan legal services agreement

- 2021 Onsolve CodeRed and IPAWS Agreement

- Reappoint Mitch Doll to 2nd Term on Planning Commission

- Authorization for Auditor/Treasurer year-end bill pay

- Annual delegation of authority for EFT’s

- Official depositories for 2021- added Edward Jones

- Recycling Fee set at $5.75 per unit

- 2021 Legal Papers- $9.20 per column inch

- 2021 solid waste hauling licenses


Dana Kass – Technical Clerk for County Recorder

Erin McDurmont – Detention Officer for the Jail

Steps – Diane Englin, Taylor Rueckert, Angela Lenz