Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 9, 1998

McLeod Planning Commission fine tunes feedlot ordinance

By Russell Victorian and Wade Petrich, McLeod County Chronicle

The McLeod County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the feedlot management ordinance at its Tuesday board meeting.

County Environmentalist Roger Berggren presented the board with three changes the planning commission approved at the Feb. 25 public hearing.

The board approved two of the three changes made by the planning commission.

Section 8.001(f) was deleted from the ordinance by the planning commission, but reinstated by the county board. It involves all new feedlots of 50 or more animal units shall be setback 1,320 feet or three feet per animal unit, whichever is the greater setback distance, up to a maximum of 2,640 feet from any existing feedlot of 50 or more animal units.

The two ordinance changes made by the planning commission and approved by the board were:

- Allowing swine operations under 400 animal units to have open pits or earthen lagoons with an approved manure management plan.

The ordinance also states that "There will be no new or expanded open pits or earthen lagoons for swine operations greater than 400 animal units."

The ordinance previously read "There will be no new or expanded open pits or earthen lagoons for swine operations."

Allowing for no pits or lagoons would "put the little guy out of business," planning commissioner member Jim Hueser said at the Feb. 25 meeting.

It should be allowed under certain conditions, added Herman Miller, planning commission member.

The way it was, one could not even get a variance, Hueser said.

-In Section 5.018, the definition of feedlot officer will read, "An employee from the county environmentalist's office will be appointed by the McLeod County Board of Commissioners to administer the provisions of this ordinance. This employee shall have the same duties and powers as a feedlot officer as defined by Minnesota State Rule 7020."

At Tuesday's board meeting, chairmen Sheldon Nies told the audience in attendance that the board did not want to rehash old information, but was willing to listen to new information.

Berggren told the board what changes were made by the planning commission. He said the commission adjusted the proposed county feedlot ordinance to allow for swine lagoons in certain situations, deleted feedlot setbacks from other feedlots and made other minor word changes in the ordinance at its Feb. 25 meeting in the courthouse.

Berggren also said it is state law for feedlots with over 500 units to notify everyone within 5,000 feet of the facility.

Farmer Paul Wright of rural Hutchinson said he fears some of the changes in the ordinance will have a negative impact on the small farmers and the newer farmers. He said some farmers do not have all kinds of land to play with in regards to setbacks.

Wright also said he was not in favor of open pit lagoons, but felt the ordinance should allow someone to cover the pit. He said that can cut down odor by 80 percent.

Commissioner Grant Knutson made the motion to approve the ordinance, but said he would like to see the board revisit the issue within a year at a public hearing.

After a year's time, Knutson said the board could make any necessary amendments to the ordinance.

With the issue of enforcement, Nies told the audience that it is the job of the commissioners to enforce the feedlot ordinances.

"We don't mind you putting pressure on us to do this," Nies said.

After the vote was taken, both Nies and Knutson thanked the public for their feedback on the issue.

"It is a compromise that all of us can live with," Nies said.

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