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Supervisors Approve Repair Bid, Grant Conditional Use Permits

By Staff | May 20, 2008

Bids for repairs on a drainage ditch damaged a year ago were approved last Tuesday by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. The repairs are being paid through a cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

Bids for the repairs to Drainage Ditch 175 were submitted by three contractors for the ditch, was sustained damage through flooding in 2007. Drainage Engineers Kuehl and Payer of Algona had estimated the cost for repairs at $90,748.50.

Bids were submitted by Valley Contracting of Estherville in the amount of $93,3200.50; Reutzel Contracting of Burt in the amount of $84,470.25 and L.A. Carlson Excavating of Merrill, in the amount of $83,505.

“The bids were pretty good,” noted Supervisor Keith Wirtz, who owns an excavating service. “They show these guys are looking for work.”

With little discussion, the board gave unanimous approval to the bid of L.A. Carlson Excavating of Merrill, in the amount of $83.505.

In a related issue, County Engineer Joel Fantz briefed the board on a drainage problem in Drainage District seven, located in Emmetsburg Township Section Nine. Dave Girres, landowner, had visited with the engineer to talk about the possibility of jetting out an old existing tile line.

“Dave is guessing that the old tile is probably half-full of dirt,” Fantz explained, “because he always has water standing after a rain and it takes a long time to go away. In the records, it shows that another tile line was laid alongside the original tile to restore the original capacity, but we haven’t had time to fully research the district records.”

“Jetting that tile sure wouldn’t be cheap,” Wirtz observed. “I know that one contractor charges $200 for the first hour, and then $160 an hour after that. The biggest deal would be getting enough water to run the jetter.”

Fantz and the board agreed more information was needed in regards to the district and the additional tile, and took no action on the discussion.

Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary brought two conditional use permits before the supervisors for consideration.

The first request, from Prestage Farms of Iowa, LLC, was for a 102’by 397′ hog finisher in the northeast quarter of Section 23 of Rush Lake Township.

“This site is on Ken Woodford’s land,” Neary told the supervisors. “It meets our Good Neighbor Policy, and the Master Matrix was verified. There were no objections or comments on this application and the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the application.”

“People are looking at these sites for the manure, because commercial fertilizer prices are over $200 and acre,” explained Kent Krause, a representative of Pinnacle Farms, designers of the facility.

On a motion by Wirtz, the application was approved on a 4-1 roll call vote, with Supervisors Wirtz, Ed Noonan, Ron Graettinger and Chair Leo Goeders casting ayes. Supervisor Jerry Hofstad cast the lone nay vote.

Duane Myer submitted the second request, for a 102′ by 397′ hog finisher in the northwest quarter of Section 34 of Great Oak Township.

“There is one residence within the half-mile distance,” Neary reported, “but they have signed a waiver, so it meets the county’s Good Neighbor Policy. The Master Matrix has also been verified for this site, and there were no comments so the Planning and Zoning commissioners recommended approval.”

“”These units are bringing younger folks back to the area to farm.” Observed Wirtz, when it was noted that the operation was a family farming operation.

The conditional use permit was granted on a unanimous roll call vote of the supervisors.

“I was surprised to see this many sites going up,” Neary told the board, “but with the price of commercial fertilizer, we’ll probably see more of them.

“Well, if it were up to me, I’d make it a rule that you have to out up trees around these units,” Wirtz commented.

“I feel the same way,” Graettinger added.

“The public seems to appreciate it more with the trees,” Wirtz continued. “They help with sending the odor up into the air, and the NRCS is more than willing to help with trees. It just seems to make sense to plant trees in the long run.”