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Water project draws ire

WORTHINGTON -- Neighbors of the proposed sites that will house a 1-million-gallon water tower and a metering system for the expanding Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water project in Nobles County voiced objections to the plans during a two-hour-long meeting of the Nobles County Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night in Worthington.

Pat Shorter, who resides directly east of the proposed site for the 200-foot-tall water tower said it will look aesthetically awkward out his back window and may negatively affect his property's value.

"The affects to my property are very important to me," said Shorter. "We love where we live and I don't want to look out my back window, which is really scenic, and have to see a water tower."

Dennis Healy, CEO of Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, said the tower will consist of a 36-foot diameter pedestal and a 60-foot diameter tank.

"The site that was ultimately selected was the third landowner that we contacted," said Healy, of the site in the east half of the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 22, Dewald Township. "We need a willing seller. The thing we liked about this particular site is that we could share the existing driveway so we didn't have to put another approach onto the highway."

Once tower construction is completed, Healy said there would be minimal traffic at the tower site.

Shorter said he voiced opposition a year ago against the tower being constructed too close to his house.

"I feel 300 to 400 feet is too close to my residence," Shorter said. "I do feel it should be 1,000 feet -- 1,500 feet -- back from a residence."

Wayne Smith, Nobles County Environmental Services director, said the land where the tower will be constructed is 440 feet from Shorter's property line, and that if the tower was erected in the center of the property, there would be about 630 feet separating the tower from Shorter's property.

The tower will be the first rural water tower constructed in Nobles County, Smith said.

"I understand that it has to go someplace," Shorter said. "I'm not against the project. I'm a customer of rural water. I just think some respect for the existing landowner is needed here.

"This is a permanent structure that isn't going to go away," he added. "These change the way we live."

Catherine Jones, of Sioux Falls, S.D., owns the land adjacent to where the meter site will be located in the southwest quarter of Section 35, Indian Lake Township. That site will house a proposed 20- by 28-foot building that will house the water treatment equipment. She asked the commission to table the request for the conditional use permit.

"I believe that this has come up so quickly for us," Jones said. "We would like it to be tabled for a short length of time so we can look at what our options will be."

Jones said she wanted to talk to the farmer who owned the land where the building will be constructed to see if he would "change his mind about where the metering site would be located."

Healy said the proposed building is "not a large structure."

"The water tower, there's no doubt about that -- that is a sizeable structure, but I think if I'd be standing at the front door (of Shorter's house), there's no way to see the water tower," Healy said. "There's no doubt we're going to stand out, but I doubt there will be much impact on that particular building site."

There were no objections to the second phase of the rural water project, which includes a booster and storage site in the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 33, Larkin Township, and the residential water lines that will be constructed throughout Nobles County.

"I think it's pretty straightforward," said Smith. "We want rural water for Nobles County."

Both phases were approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The requests will now advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners, who will take up the requests and recommendations at the March 24 board meeting.

In other action, the commission:

l Approved a request from Justin Gaarder of Worthington to continue to operate a gun repair and sales shop on property in the north half of the southeast quarter of Section 6, Bigelow Township. Gaarder will move the business from his home to an existing building on the property. He had requested a conditional use permit (CUP) several months ago, but it was tabled at that time so he could address issues with an insurance policy on the business.

The CUP request will advance to the Nobles County Board on March 24 for final approval.

l Approved a conditional use permit for R&R Thier Feedlots, Inc., of rural Rushmore, to expand an existing cattle operation in the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 26, Olney Township. The feedlot will expand from 3,000 to 5,000 head, making it the county's largest feedlot operation, according to Smith.

Favorable comments were given by the Environmental Services office during the public hearing, and there were no negative comments received about the expansion.

Smith did recommend, however, that the Thiers obtain a DNR appropriations permit before the new feedlots are stocked. The permit is required for feedlots with more than 1,000 animal units.

The CUP request will advance to the Nobles County Board on March 24 for final approval.

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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