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County approves hog barn to move forward

WORTHINGTON — Nearly two weeks after neighbors raised a stink over a proposed hog confinement building east of Adrian by Son-D-Farms, Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday accepted a recommendation from the planning commission to move the development forward.

Doug Bullerman, representing Son-D-Farms, was present at Tuesday’s meeting along with Kim Kimmel, of Magnolia, who owns a farm in close proximity to the proposed site.

Kimmel, who said he was present on the advice of his attorney, is protesting the building of the hog confinement barn in the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 20, Olney Township. He said the barn would be within 800 feet of his door — “way less than one quarter mile.”

Son-D-Farms plans to construct a hog finishing barn with a concrete pit below, an office, load-out chute and generator shed on the site where there is currently no livestock. Bullerman said the site was selected because there is a need for fertilizer on land Son-D-Farms owns in that area.

“We call it a fertilizer plant so we have fertilizer from that area,” Bullerman said.

The proposed barn would be 800 feet outside the wellhead protection area for the city of Adrian, according to Nobles County Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith. He said the manure will be applied to ground within the wellhead protection area, and that the city of Adrian had no concerns with the site plan.

Adrian City Administrator Bruce Heitkamp said that because the barn is outside the city’s wellhead protection area and the drinking water supply management area, and because there are measures in place to protect water resources, the city didn’t have any initial concerns regarding Son-D-Farms’ request.

Kimmel cited several concerns about groundwater contamination, cancer, hog manure burning up soybean crops and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in his urging to commissioners to deny the permit application.

“It shall be determined by the Appellate Court if this building is allowed to be constructed,” he said. “There will be a lawsuit in federal court.

“I don’t want that building there,” Kimmel said in closing. “I’ve made my protest. I thank you for your time.”

Bullerman followed up Kimmel’s comments by saying there have been no issues with this size of barn or odors emitted from them, that Son-D-Farms plants corn because it feeds it to the livestock, and that PEDv is “something the government’s got to figure out.”

He explained that the barn will be used for iso-wean pigs, meaning they come into the barn at 10- to 12 pounds and don’t leave until they reach market weight of 270 pounds.

“There’s only two groups that go through these barns in a year,” Bullerman said. “Half the year you’ve got baby pigs in there that don’t provide a lot of manure.”

In contradiction to Kimmel’s statement about the proposed barn’s proximity to his property, Smith said information provided to the planning commission showed the barn would be 1,150 feet from Kimmel’s former home and 1,765 feet from the next nearest residence.

Commissioners accepted the recommendation of the planning commission with one addition to the conditions placed on the permit. That condition includes that a level 2 land application inspection be presented to Nobles County Environmental Services at each feedlot license renewal. A checklist will be provided by environmental services.

Commissioner Gene Metz abstained from the vote due to his involvement with the farm business.

In other action, the board:

  • Presented the April Excellence in Performance award to Erin Top, juvenile restorative justice agent with Rock-Nobles Community Corrections.
  • Approved of the Nobles County Historical Society’s quest to get Worthington’s War Memorial Building on the National Register of Historic Places. NCHS representatives Pat Demuth and Jerry Fiola said the application for consideration has passed its first hurdle. Now, more information needs to be provided to move the process forward.

Demuth said the historical society will apply for another grant to gather the requested information, and the potential designation as a historic building is still another year away. Meanwhile, the NCHS is also working toward getting the Chautauqua Park bandshell listed on the registry as well.

“With both properties, (the state) determined it’s not a slam dunk for either of them,” said Fiola. “They are still potentially eligible, and (the state) thought it was worthy of pursuing.”

  • Approved an amendment to the county’s land use ordinance to allow for boarding and sheltering homes in urban residential, rural residential and ag preservation districts. In addition, the board approved a conditional use permit for Project Morning Star to operate a safe, transitional housing program in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 19, Indian Lake Township. The six-year permit will have a three-year review.
  • Upon recommendation of the Nobles County Planning Commission, approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for Brad and Dean Luettel of Adrian to expand a dairy operation in the southwest quarter of Section 22, Westside Township; approved a CUP for Joey Bullerman, Adrian, to expand a cattle feedlot in the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 24, Lismore Township; and approved a CUP for Son-D-Farms, Adrian, to construct two hog confinement barns in the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 11, Grand Prairie Township. An added condition to the Son-D-Farms request includes that a level 2 land application inspection also be presented to Nobles County Environmental Services at the time of each feedlot license renewal.
  • Received an update from Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder on the installation of individual rural address signs. A&H Company Inc., of Ironton was the lowest of two bidders on the project, presenting a bid of $25,300 ($11 per sign). The bid was less than half of the anticipated cost. It isn’t yet known when the signs will be erected.
  • Designated administration and the executive committee of the county board to further discuss the comparable worth study that was completed for Nobles County. George Gmach of MRA/Trusight attended Tuesday’s meeting to give a basic explanation of the work he has done thus far, but didn’t want to talk specifics about pay structure during an open forum.
  • Received annual updates from Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz regarding the department’s 2013 caseload; and from Jan Voit, Heron Lake Watershed District Administrator, recapping the 10 grant projects implemented within the district last year and some of the projects coming this year.
  • Discussed the process for redetermination of benefits on joint county ditches with local watershed administrators and a ditch viewer. Voit encouraged the board to develop a list of ditches, determine which ones need to be reevaluated due to benefiting property owners and in what order those ditches will be reassessed. Commissioner Marv Zylstra suggested that at some point, the county establish a work group on the matter.
  • Approved the appointment of Dr. Howard Leibowitz as deputy coroner.
  • Approved the closure of Nobles County State Aid Highways 11 and 30 in Ellsworth from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 21 for the Family Fun Days parade.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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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