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County grants permit for controversial confinement barn

WORTHINGTON -- Two months after Nobles County Commissioners denied a request by Brent Wintz to construct a second hog confinement building on his farm in Indian Lake Township, they moved Tuesday to accept his application for a conditional use permit.

Wintz will now be allowed to construct a 102- by 106-foot total confinement barn on his property in the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 1, Indian Lake Township.

In March, Wintz was denied a conditional use permit by the county's planning and zoning commission and county commissioners. During those meetings, numerous individuals from the Round Lake area voiced concern about odor, air quality and quality of life for those who live along -- and enjoy -- the lake setting.

Since then, Wintz and several members of the planning and zoning commission, as well as Wintz's neighbor, looked at ways to better control odor coming from the hog farm. They recently visited a Renville facility that uses bio-curtains to cut down on odors. In addition, Wintz, along with his son and neighbor, also toured an Illinois confinement system that uses an electrical charge to remove odors from particles emitted from the barn.

Wintz agreed to install bio-curtains on both his existing finishing barn and the new confinement barn as one of the conditions for the permit. Wintz will not be allowed to incorporate any manure on land in the Round Lake Watershed District. Conditions from his first finishing barn will also be applied to the new barn.

Prior to the commissioners' vote, the public was allowed to comment on the permit request. John Dopp, who lives near Wintz, urged commissioners to delay allowing the conditional use permit.

"I think a curtain can reduce odors, but he should try it on his current building before building another barn," Dopp said.

Putting the curtain on the existing barn, however, was a contingency of getting a permit for the second barn.

Commissioner Diane Thier voiced support for Wintz's plan.

"We are an agricultural area," she said. "I think (Wintz) has done everything plus that we've asked him to do."

Marty Lonneman, an audience member who was also applying for a conditional use permit for a hog confinement building, voiced concern that commissioners might make bio-curtains a condition for hog confinement buildings constructed in the future.

"Before you start mandating something like this ... there are considerable costs to put these curtains on," Lonneman said, adding that producers can take other measures to reduce odors, such as using pit additives or planting trees.

Commissioner Norm Gallagher responded that Wintz was "sort of" forced into adding the curtains because of the complaints of neighboring property owners.

"Each barn will stand on its own two feet," Gallagher said of placing conditions upon permits for livestock facilities.

In other action, the board:

l Approved the construction of a new driveway on the Grant Prins property that would allow access to both farm ground and a residential building site.

l Approved a conditional use permit for Stacey Gravenhof to operate a dog kennel in the southeast quarter of Section 14, Dewald Township. A condition is that there be no more than 50 breeding dogs on site.

l Approved a conditional use permit for Lonneman to construct a 41- by 248-foot total confinement barn to house 1,200 head of finishing hogs on land in the northwest quarter of Section 19, Little Rock Township.

l Approved a conditional use permit for Sioux Valley Pork to construct a 66- by 68-foot addition onto an existing farrowing barn in the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 28, Wilmont Township.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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