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Published June 27, 2012, 09:37 PM

Under pressure, Mayville co-op delays expansion

The Mayport Farmer’s Co-op Elevator has revoked a building-permit application for two new grain silos, for now, and is moving forward with installation of a dust-control system for the building it has now.

By: TJ Jerke, Grand Forks Herald

MAYVILLE, N.D. — The Mayport Farmer’s Co-op Elevator has revoked a building-permit application for two new grain silos, for now, and is moving forward with installation of a dust-control system for the building it has now.

And all eyes in this town of 1,900 are on the elevator to ensure the new system works properly.

More than 25 residents and co-op board members voiced their opinions about the issue Wednesday night during a meeting of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Residents are pleased with the decision to add a filtering system, but recalled the co-op’s inability to control the dust and noise emitted from the elevator since its expansion in 2006. The dust has been blamed for respiratory problems some residents suffer.

“I would like some assurance and to see comparisons of systems to know they are choosing the best options,” said Karen Huso, who lives two and a half blocks from the elevator.

Co-op Board President Richard Moen and other board members assured her they were choosing the best system, saying it will diminish the debris substantially.

Moen said he hopes to have the filtering system ordered and installed as soon as possible, but expects it to take at least three months.

“It’s a way to move forward,” he said. “It’s a way to make progress.”

Leave town?

The move to install a filtering system came after the co-op’s board of directors voted to install the system ahead of the proposed expansion project after being threatened by lawyers hired by the residents.

The residents had formed a nonprofit group, called the Mayville Clean Air Campaign, to push for the system. The group seeks to raise $10,000 to $20,000 to pay attorney fees, and some residents have already contributed upwards of $200 to $500 each.

Craig Richie, a Fargo attorney hired by the group, said at the commission meeting that, rather than expanding, the co-op should look at moving out of town.

“Economically, it’s not to their advantage to fight this when they want to be successful,” Richie said.

“Maybe this is the time to look at another site somewhere in the future, somewhere out of town that won’t cause problems,” he said. “It certainly is going to be cheaper in the long run to build something new than keep adding onto something. We don’t want Mayville to be a place where people get sick and have trouble breathing.”

Zoning changes

It doesn’t appear the co-op will follow his advice.

Once the filtering system is in place, Moen said, the co-op will address the expansion project.

City zoning laws currently prevent the expansion.

Fargo attorney John Shockley is advising the city after City Attorney Lynn Slaathaug Moen recused herself because she also represents the co-op.

Shockley determined the proposed elevator expansion is not consistent with city zoning laws. He said the co-op would have to ask the city to rezone the area as a light-industrial zone and then apply for a conditional-use permit.

Such a permit can be used for land or structures that produce, process and clean materials not previously allowed by city law.

In the meantime, residents will wait and see if the filtering system works as promised.

“There’s no way we’re going to drop the ball,” Huso said. “We’re going to be watching them.”


Reach Jerke at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 6736; or send email to tjerke@gfherald.com.

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