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Published April 25, 2014, 09:16 AM

SD hog farm expansion draws ire

The Nobles County (Minn.) Planning Commission granted preliminary approval for Son-D-Farms of Adrian to construct three new hog confinement barns this year, but not before taking public testimony from neighbors complaining about the smell.

By: Julie Buntjer , Forum News Service

WORTHINGTON, Minn. — The Nobles County (Minn.) Planning Commission granted preliminary approval for Son-D-Farms of Adrian to construct three new hog confinement barns this year, but not before taking public testimony from neighbors complaining about the smell.

Doug Bullerman sought approval to put one new barn in the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 20, Olney Township, and two barns on a site in the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 11, Grand Prairie Township. Both sites already include existing hog barns, and would be used to house isowean pigs.

Bullerman said these sites were selected for expansion because they are running short on building space and need to get more animal manure to farms in the vicinity of the proposed barns. Son-D-Farms is one of the largest pork producers in Nobles County.

The proposal for the Olney Township site is to construct a 2,400-head barn with a concrete storage pit below to contain up to 12 months of manure, while the Grand Prairie Township site is proposed to have two 1,200-head barns added.

The Planning Commission addressed each request separately, with the Olney Township site drawing criticism from neighbors.

Kim Kimmel of Magnolia said he measured the distance from the proposed barn to his home, and said there was less than 1,200 feet of separation.

“That’s less than a quarter of a mile,” Kimmel told the commission, adding that the city of Adrian’s wellhead protected district is also near where the Bullermans apply their hog manure to farmland.

“We’ve got a problem,” Kimmel said, adding that with the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) and the potential for virus-laden manure to be injected into the land, he’s concerned about the future of Adrian’s water supply.

Meanwhile, David Dorn asked if Bullerman couldn’t locate the barn to another area of his property so it wouldn’t be so close to neighbors.

“I’m not as concerned about that barn as how well I know you,” Dorn said. “I’m worried about the next two barns.

“I’m at the age where I’d like to go out and sit on the porch, and I’m going to have to go in the house and shut the windows,” he added.

Dorn’s home is within half a mile of the proposed barn.

Bullerman said Dorn was expecting odor to be an issue, and he said it wouldn’t be.

Cheryl Heitkamp of Adrian said there is a stink coming from the hog barns Bullerman already has in place. She spoke specifically about one location with six barns that have a manure slurry.

Bullerman didn’t deny the odor problems on that particular site, but said the new barns with the storage pits below don’t create such smells.

The two barns Son-D-Farms plans to construct in Grand Prairie Township are smaller, but similar in design. They will be added to a site that already includes a pair of 10-year-old barns.

While there were no neighbors present to provide comment on the request, Heitkamp wondered aloud how many more hog buildings Son-D-Farms has to have.

“It’s just a waste of time when we come here because you people don’t listen to any comments or criticisms — so forget it,” Heitkamp said as she stood up to leave the meeting.

Kimmel followed her out, making comments about a federal lawsuit.

With the gallery nearly cleared, Planning Commission member Steve Brake said that with pit additives and isowean pigs, manure odors aren’t as much of an issue.

“Odor is one of our lesser concerns these days,” Brake said. “I think Doug is running his operation the way it should be run.”

The commission approved the request for both conditional use permits, with conditions that there be dead animal containment on site, the good neighbor policy be adhered to and that manure be incorporated. With the Grand Prairie site, an additional condition included Bullerman having all necessary Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permits in place.

With the approval, the requests will advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for consideration and final action. The matter will be on its May 6 agenda.

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