Board approves two conditional use permits and detour agreement with State of Minnesota

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Tuesday's Watonwan County Board meeting, the board approved two pork site expansion permits and a detour agreement for the upcoming Highway 60 project.

Land Management Director Dave Haler met with the board to pass a pair of conditional use permits.

The first permit was from BTE pork for an expansion in section 18 of Fieldon Township near Highway 60. The expansion would increase the operation from 1,000 head of finishing swine to 4,000 head of finishing swine.

The second permit was from Tilney Pork LLP. on the Antrim Township county line. The expansion would call for an increase of 3,020 head of swine to 5,517 head of swine. The project would also construct a 15x15 structure. 

Both permits were passed with conditions to include pit additives and a 48 hours notice to residents within one mile of the sites prior to pit pumping.

The board also accepted remodel quotes from Halverson Construction for the county auditor’s, recorder’s, and assessor’s offices for a total of $18,150.00.

The auditor’s office needs new wall framing, beams, and door.

The recorder’s office requires new countertops, in addition to a new door, beams, and new keypad coded lockset.

The assessor’s office will recieve a new custom built cabinet and countertop.

All upgrades will feature oak finish to match the rest of the county courthouse.

Public Works Director Teal Spellman approached the board with a singular action item of accepting an agreement from the state of Minnesota to use 1.7 miles of CSAH 3 (short 3) near Madelia as a detour during Highway 60 reconstruction near Lake Crystal.

The road is projected to be used for 29 days as the project is being completed. The conty will receive $1,492.16 for the road use. The state uses a formula for "road life consumed" to come up with the payment.

The commissioners brought up concerns over the seemingly low compensation the county would receive.

"How do we know that this road doesn't get damaged if it doesn't show up right away and then all of a sudden it needs repairs," asked commissioner Bob Rinne.

Spellman noted that the county documents road conditions prior and post detour to assess damage.

"Basically once they are off our road, the agreement is done," said Spellman.

Most of the traffic will not be hauling traffic, but regular road traffic.

Spellman also said that other counties were frustrated as well with the low payouts from the state for similar projects, but that Blue Earth County had already entered the agreement with the state.

The commissioners did pass a resolution to enter the agreement with the state.

In addition, Spellman received $508,000 for the trail project in 2025. The county must provide a 20% match ($101,000) for the project. The county recently put out a survey for residents to fill out in an effort to gauge community input on what else the county should focus on for park projects.

The survey can be found at https://www.co.watonwan.mn.us/civicalerts.aspx?aid=116.

The next Watonwan County Board meeting is scheduled for April 6.

Other items:

- farmland lease

- road wetland banking

- Avenu AS400 contract

- South Fork liquor licensing

- Bills: general: $89,677.93, road & bridge: $19,185.51

- Planning and zoning site visit reimbursements

- Equal Employment Opportunity Plan

- Training request: Jared Bergeman- DMT Re-certifications

- Personnel: 

- Tessa Hall (St. James Library) to Technical Services Coordinator

- Amanda Sandberg- dispatch hire

- Nationwide Plan Update

- Fidlar Technologies Computer System software and license sales agreement