GRANITE?FALLS?- A routine request to approve a conditional use permit already approved by the Yellow Medicine County Planning and Zoning Board turned into a debate when a half-dozen of the property owner's neighbors showed up to protest Tuesday at the county board meeting.
Randy Jacobsen, county planning and zoning director, recommended passage of Marshall Meier's request to build a 66-by-83 foot cattle finishing barn on his Echo Township property, with a 12-foot deep manure pit below. The facility is designed to accommodate 995 head of cattle.
Meier's request had already been approved by the planning and zoning board subject to a number of conditions to regulate possible offensive odors.
"Under normal procedures we don't take testimony," said Board Chairman Gary Johnson. "The time for that was at the planning and zoning meeting."
Six neighbors who live on properties adjacent to Meier attended the meeting.
The concerns the neighbors expressed involved potential odors, the facility being located on a high spot on Meier's property within sight of the neighbors and possible wear and tear on the gravel roads by heavily laden manure trucks. Some expressed concern for the resale value of their properties.
County Assessor Connie Erickson told the board and the residents she had done studies in Yellow Medicine County that failed to show any negative effect of livestock facilities on the assessed values of surrounding properties.
"I contacted six neighboring counties," Erickson said. "Five replied and said they had made no adjustments in their assessments."
After discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the permit, citing all procedures had been followed, the required two weeks notice had been published and there was the required half-mile distance from the facility to the nearest residence.
"We have to follow our ordinances, we have no choice," Johnson said. "I wish you'd taken this to planning and zoning. You were given two weeks notice. I don't know who informed you to come to this meeting, their job is to take care of this stuff. It takes the politics out of it."
Commissioner Louis Sherlin commented that well-run livestock facilities that are well ventilated and have the proper chemicals applied to the manure pit can control odors.
"If complaints come, it can be closed," Sherlin said.