Revised county feedlot ordinance tightens some controls

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2001

A change in Freeborn County feedlot policy will mean some stricter controls on new operations, and some changes for existing lots.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

A change in Freeborn County feedlot policy will mean some stricter controls on new operations, and some changes for existing lots.

Email newsletter signup

Major additions to the ordinance include a good-neighbor policy recommendation, mandatory quality assurance workshop attendance for new and expanding operators, and 200-foot setbacks for larger new buildings unless they are a previously engineered expansion within an existing system, said Dick Hoffman of Freeborn County Environmental Services.

Under the revised ordinance, no new feedlot permits will be issued in shoreland areas within 300 feet of a river, stream or sinkhole, within 1,000 feet of a lake, pond or flowage, or within 100 feet of a private well.

Operators must also submit an odor management plan and ensure dead animals are kept in an enclosed, animal-proof container until they can be picked up, he said.

The cap on animal units was decreased to 3,000 from 3,500, but changes in the animal unit value of different species will minimize the effect, or in some cases increase the number of animals allowed. For example, using the new values, a farmer would be able to own almost 10,000 hogs weighing 55 pounds or more, about 1,250 more than under the old ordinance, because hogs will be consider .3 animal units instead of .4, as before. Operators can apply for permission to own as many as 3,500 animal units with a conditional-use permit, Hoffman said.

Several new definitions were also added to clarify the ordinances, Hoffman said.

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommended changes to the feedlot ordinance.

Changes in the ordinance reflect new Minnesota Environmental Protection Agency (MPCA) regulations and county and constituent concerns, said Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Gerald Edwards.

The commission began reviewing the ordinance at the request of commissioners last July, to fine-tune the language and requirements, and bring them up to speed with new MPCA regulations. The ordinance had not been reviewed since it was passed in 1995, he said.

The commission drafted as many as a dozen ordinance revisions before coming to agreement in February.

&uot;We’d draft something and we’d be pretty much in agreement, but sometimes we’d come back to the next meeting and say, ‘You know, if we go with that, it’s going to affect (something else),’&uot; Edwards said.

The commission also held two public meetings where about 50 residents voiced their concerns. Then a producer group was asked to review the proposal. The commission examined each question raised in the meetings before drafting the final proposed ordinance changes, Edwards said.

Some changes reflected new names for an overseeing agency or inspector’s title, others set more strict regulations for set-backs and animal disposal. But one much-discussed item didn’t make the final ordinance.

&uot;Density was the one thing we spent the most amount of time on, and we really couldn’t come up with an ordinance to cover it,&uot; Edwards said.

The commission reviewed other county feedlot ordinances and asked producers and residents for ideas covering density, but found none, he said.

The ordinance passed so smoothly because the commission was careful to include all interested groups in developing their recommendation, said Commissioner Mark Behrends, former Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

&uot;We tried to keep as much of the public’s concerns in our new ordinance as possible,&uot; agreed Edwards. &uot;We wanted to keep the public’s concerns in the forefront and keep the producers viable.&uot;