Commissioners give hog CUP the “no go”
A process that began last September finally reached a conclusion last Tuesday at the Faribault County Commissioners meeting.
Acting upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the commissioners voted 4-1 to deny a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Larry Twedt for a proposed hog facility in Faribault county.
The site of the hog barn would have been located approximately three miles southwest of the city of Blue Earth in Jo Daviess Township.
The CUP had been necessary because of the size of the proposed project. The site was to have housed 3,280 swine which is equivalent to 1,312 animal units. According to the county ordinance, any site housing over 1,000 animal units needs to have a CUP.
It was at its meeting on Dec. 11 that the Planning Commission had decided to recommend to the County Board the request for the CUP be denied.
Dennis Koziolek, the Planning Commission chairman, told the commissioners a lot of time had been spent by the Planning Commission discussing 28 different points concerning the proposed project and in the end it came down to the commission having a problem with the smell the unit could produce and how it would affect the people living around the facility.
Twedt addressed the commissioners before any votes were taken and explained he was willing to add a bio-fence to the project to help aid in controlling the dust and odor.
This is something new being tried in the hog industry, although Twedt explained the technology has been used by other industries for years.
The first motion to come to the floor was made by Commissioner Tom Loveall. He moved to approve the CUP with added conditions. Among these added stipulations would be the daily monitoring of the perimeter tile with a log kept of the inspections. He also added a condition requiring the bio-filters to be inspected and monitored on a monthly basis with signed documentation to verify the inspections.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Tom Warmka allowing discussion to proceed.
Commissioner Greg Young was the first to speak and said he would be voting against the motion citing his concern about the density of the population around the proposed site.
“My position is these people were here first, this is where they live and I think they have an unalienable right to enjoy their property,” Young stated.
Warmka also spoke before casting his vote.
“This is a tough vote for me because I am an ag guy and have had livestock my whole life,” Warmka explained, “but I am going to vote no to approve this because of the impact on the health, safety and welfare of the people living in the area.”
The vote proceeded with Loveall being the only commissioner voting to approve the CUP with the added conditions.
Following the vote. Loveall said he respects the no votes and was not critical of how the other commissioners came to their decision.
“My concern is where do we go from here?” Loveall said. “How is this going to work when three or four people are against a hog barn, do we treat 18 people in one part of the county differently? I understand that 18 people have a stronger impact but this is why I used this as an opportunity to say I want a higher standard than a CUP in what is brought before us.”
Warmka offered some further comments.
“I have lost sleep over this, but it is location, location, location and it comes down to the size of this project,” Warmka said. “Part of my job, besides being a farmer, is a public servant for the people of this county and to look out for peoples’ welfare.”
Loveall again expressed his concerns.
“My point is this is bigger than this one case, in my opinion. I understand how you can reasonably and logically get to denying this and I am not questioning anyone’s view about public safety, health and welfare. I respect these people and I understand why they are concerned about it,” Loveall said.
“But in the end, if we are going to have a standard, how many people does it take to say it gets voted down in some other township where there are four people being impacted?” Loveall continued. “If the answer is, there are just not enough of you so you’re just going to get rolled over, I am not comfortable with that.”
Next, the commissioners voted on the recommendation from the Planning Commission to deny the CUP which again passed by a 4-1 vote with Loveall casting the only dissenting vote. Thus the CUP was denied.