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Rock County faces lawsuit

LUVERNE — The treasurer of the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed District is suing Rock County and Overgaard Pork.

The lawsuit, confirmed during Tuesday’s Rock County Board of Commissioners meeting, notes that Frahm applied in May for a land use permit from the Rock County Planning and Zoning Board to construct a home on the property in Kanaranzi Township in Rock County.

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One month earlier, Chad Overgaard had applied for — and paid the fee for — a land use permit that would enable Overgaard Pork to build a proposed hog feedlot in that same township.

At the time of the Overgaard application, the county had a policy of deeming a permit application for a proposed feedlot as complete only when the applicant also submitted a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The permit is required for animal feedlots that exceed 1,000 animal units. Overgaard, though, applied for the NPDES permit three months after his initial application.

On July 15, Frahm’s application was denied due to reciprocal setbacks from feedlots that the county argued precluded a new residence for Frahm because Overgaard Pork had priority in the permitting process. The county opted to issue a land permit to Overgaard Pork, deeming the Overgaard Pork application complete without the NPDES permit at the time of the original application. The MPCA did issue an NPDES feedlot approval to Overgaard Pork on Aug. 6.

Frahm alleges the decision to approve the land use permit to Overgaard Pork was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to Minnesota law and procedure. She is asking the court to reverse the decisions of the county and order the permit to be granted to her.

A municipality must even-handedly process permit applications and may not place a hold on permit applications or change its policies and practices to favor one applicant over another, Frahm contains.

Neither Frahm nor the county had any comment on the lawsuit.

County staff will be interviewed by a Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) representative to investigate the timeline of Frahm’s accusations. The lawsuit could take up to a year to be completed, it was stated during Tuesday’s meeting.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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