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Supervisors Give Nod To Hog Confinements

By Staff | Mar 13, 2012

Opposition was voiced against a pair of conditional use permits for livestock confinements in Great Oak and Ellington Townships in Palo Alto County during the Mar. 6, meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. According to Joe Neary, Palo Alto County Planning and Zoning Administrator, both sites met the provisions of the Master Matrix and the county’s Good Neighbor Policy.

“The Planning and Zoning Commission met last night [Monday, Mar. 5] and recommended the approval of the permit applications for both locations,” Neary noted.

The first permit in question was for Richard and Sue Haack to construct two 101 feet by 203 feet hog finishing barns in the northwest quarter of Section 36 of Great Oak Township. The barns, with deep pit manure storage, will have an animal unit capacity of 1997.

Neary continued, “We did have some opposition to the building. Jeff and Cassie Hersom like to ride their horses along that road and have opposition to the smell. Jill Kerber Aldous and Jeff Kerber with Hawkeye 9 also oppose it, as well as Tim Flaharty and Jay Clasing. But, at the end of the night, it meets the Good Neighbor Policy and Planning and Zoning voted to approve it.”

Dean Gunderson, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman, added, “The proposal did meet the requirements, and there are issues on both sides. The applicant does live on the site. Hawkeye 9 is concerned about disease issues and biosecurity. The application of manure is also a concern. Hopefully, the two sides can come together and there can be a compromise. We need to go forward with this meeting.”

Jeff Kerber, representing Hawkeye 9, spoke, “I’m here today representing five family farms that own Hawkeye 9. It’s my job to be here, but I’m frustrated and disappointed with the culture. No one seems to care about anyone else. We selected that site years ago. It was a very good site. Since then, Prestige Farms has surrounded us with buildings. This one is less than a mile north. The financial impact on these five family farms will be significant.”

Kerber noted that the production system is entirely different from a finishing house, and he had concerns about the introduction and spread of the swine disease PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome).

“I know that the Supervisors won’t be able to do anything, so my purpose here was to be on the record,” said Kerber. “What they’re doing is wrong. It’s almost criminal.”

“I appreciate your comments, but it does meet the Master Matrix and the Good Neighbor Policy,” noted Keith Wirtz, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Jerry Hofstad agreed, “We can’t do a thing about it.”

“Communication doesn’t hurt,” said Supervisor Leo Goeders. “That’s what the Good Neighbor Policy is all about.”

Gunderson added that law-makers should have foreseen these concerns.

“Government should have addressed this problem years ago,” he said.

“You can legislate common sense and respect. It’s a do unto others issue,” Kerber surmised, ending the conversation and exiting the board room.

With no further discussion, the conditional use permit for the Haack family was unanimously approved.

A second conditional use permit was also approved for John Woodford to construct two 101 feet by 203 feet hog finishing barns in the southeast quarter of Section 17 of Ellington Township. The barns, with deep pit manure storage, will have an animal unit capacity of 1997.