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Permit Applications Raise Questions

April 4, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

Palo Alto County Supervisors were presented with four conditional use permits during their weekly meeting on March 26. While most of the permits were routine in nature, some concerns were raised over each and addressed by the Supervisors.

Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary presented he first permit application, a conditional use permit submitted by Mike Daggett for a 4,400 head confinement site in Section 26 of Vernon Township.

"This site meets the Good Neighbor Policy and is a Master Matrix site,"?noted Joe Neary. "Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the application.

Concerns were raised over proximity to neighbors in the area, which were outside the half-mile zone specified by the county's Good Neighbor Policy. The possibility of moving the site further north in the section was discussed, but was dismissed as doing so would have created a bio-safety issue with proximity to a confinement site in an adjoining section.

The application was approved on a unanimous roll call vote of the board.

"I'd like to thank you for complying with the Good Neighbor Policy," Supervisor Ed Noonan told Daggett as the permit was signed.

Next for consideration was an application submitted by Brad Ruppert of Mallard, for a 5,000 head site to be located in Section 24 of Rush Lake Township, which also met the Good Neighbor Policy.

Mallard Mayor Jim Gehrt offered a concern over the water usage of the site, and how it could possibly affect the City of Mallard's water supplies. "I know our city well is rather deep, and I'm a little apprehensive what could happen if the well for this site tapped into the same aquifer as the city uses."

Agreeing that the concern was valid, especially in light of last summer's dry conditions, Joe Neary promised Gehrt that the situation would be examined. "We are going to check further with the Geological Survey office in Des Moines, but we do know there is more water in the aquifers in the southern part of the county."?

"I appreciate that you will check on this,"?Gehrt replied. "I'm not against confinements. I'm just trying to be proactive, that's all."?

With that, the supervisors approved the permit on a 5-0 roll call vote, and also thanked Ruppert for his compliance with the Good Neighbor Policy.

An application from Matt Ruppert for a similar facility in Section 20 of Ellington Township also drew a brief comment from Gehrt, "I'd have the same concern as for Brad's site."

The supervisors also gave unanimous approval on a roll call vote to Matt Ruppert, thanking him for following the Good Neighbor Policy.

But when the fourth conditional use permit came up for consideration, the situation was much different.

An application from New Fashion Pork of Jackson, MN, on behalf of Brad Freking of Jackson met opposition from the Supervisors.

"The proposed site, in Section 11 of Highland Township, does not meet the county's Good Neighbor Policy requirements,"?Joe Neary stated.

Neary noted that neighbors Steve Flint and Roger Plourde would not sign waivers to the policy and were both opposed to the construction at that site. A third neighbor, Craig Henningsen, had discussed a possible alternate location.

"Why don't you guys build up in Minnesota?"?Supervisor Linus Solberg asked the New Fashion Pork representative, Jay Moore.

"The last thing we want to do is break any rules here,"?Moore said in reply. "We want to work with you. That's why we haven't submitted this application to the DNR?and built it anyway."

Pointing out that in Minnesota, each township sets it own zoning rules, Solberg told Moore, "We want you to have the same respect for our people as you do for your pigs."

Neary noted that Planning and Zoning had rejected the application and denied the permit. "We've looked at some different locations and aren't done with that just yet."

Moore quickly agreed with Neary. "We just came in today to let you know where we stand."

On a motion from Solberg that was seconded by Noonan, the supervisors voted unanimously to deny the conditional use permit for New Fashion Pork, ending the discussion.



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