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Published February 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

Group wants delay on dairy farm proposal

A group calling itself “Stink Free Carrington” is protesting a Canadian family’s proposal to start a dairy farm three miles southeast of Carrington. Corne and Conny Van Bedaf, originally from the Netherlands, have submitted a conditional use permit to Foster County for a dairy operation with a maximum of 1,500 cows. A public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 on the second floor of the Foster County Courthouse in Carrington.

By: Jackie Hyra, The Jamestown Sun

A group calling itself “Stink Free Carrington” is protesting a Canadian family’s proposal to start a dairy farm three miles southeast of Carrington.

Corne and Conny Van Bedaf, originally from the Netherlands, have submitted a conditional use permit to Foster County for a dairy operation with a maximum of 1,500 cows. A public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 on the second floor of the Foster County Courthouse in Carrington.

Foster County Commissioners James Carr and LeRoy Hart did not express opinions on the proposed dairy.

“We’re not for it or against it,” Carr said.

Ted Keller, the organizer of “Stink Free Carrington,” built a Web site, stinkfreecarrington.com, and held a public meeting Tuesday stating his objections to the proposed Van Bedaf dairy farm. He said about 40 people attended.

Keller said he and other members of the group are not against the livestock industry but believe the proposed dairy site is too close to the city and will create odor issues.

“We’ve already got one problem three miles north of the city (the Baca cattle feedlot) that you can smell in the summer,” Keller said. “What we’re against — the number one problem — is the location of the dairy. Our biggest objection is it’s so darn close to town.”

Foster County regulations require that a new livestock facility containing 1,000 to 2,000 animals must be at least half a mile outside the zoning jurisdiction of a city. Carrington Mayor Don Frye said the Van Bedaf’s proposed site will not even be within half a mile of any rural neighbors.

The closest home to the proposed dairy site — one mile away — belongs to R.D. Reimers, who said he needs more information on the matter.

“I’m concerned,” Reimers said. “I’ve never seen one of these facilities before, so I plan to go to the meeting and see what I can find out.”

Ron Wiederholt, a member of the Agricultural Development Committee of the Carrington Area Chamber of Commerce that toured the site with the Van Bedafs, said people might be overly concerned about odor issues. He said dairy farms are constructed differently from livestock feed lots and handle waste materials differently.

“If it’s managed properly, odor should be a non issue,” he said.

But Keller is skeptical about the county enforcing proper management. He said the current county ordinances are “like a toothless dog,” and the Van Bedafs would be able to increase their dairy herd each year without permission until they have thousands of cattle.

“Once they’re there, they can pretty much do whatever they want,” he said.

According to Frye and North Dakota Department of Health regulations, that is untrue. The department regulations state: “Any new livestock facility or existing livestock facility that is proposing an increase in the number of livestock above the level allowed in the current permit … shall apply for and obtain a state animal feeding operation permit … prior to construction or expansion.”

Health regulations also require a study of potential water and air pollution levels for proposed livestock facilities.

“Everybody has to follow state and federal laws and zoning ordinances,” Frye said.

Keller also questioned what type of people would be hired to work at a dairy farm. He said most dairy farms offer low-paying jobs without health benefits. He asked who would pay the bills for the emergency room visits of uninsured families.

“Where do we get the advantage here if we bring people in who are on food stamps?” he asked.

On the Web site, Keller directs readers to a story about a dairy farm in Towner which hired illegal immigrants, and said such operations lead to “increasing crime, welfare, health care and education expenses.”

An earlier version of the Stink Free Carrington Web site said Carrington residents would have the opportunity to learn a foreign language if the dairy is built. That sentence has since been removed. Frye called such comments racist and said information on the Web site is “not accurate or appropriate.”

For example, the Web site claims property values close to the dairy will drop by 50 percent, but it doesn’t define “close.” The site also implies that the dairy will raise the level of nitrates in the Carrington drinking water, which Frye said is untrue.

“This (proposed site) doesn’t even sit on the aquifer,” Frye said.

The Web site contains a photo of an Idaho woman, Phuong Smith, gardening wearing a gas mask because her home is near a dairy. It doesn’t mention that her home sits two miles from an 8,000-cow dairy operation.

Keller said his group wants the Foster County Commission to postpone a decision on the permit and put in place new regulations, including requiring the owners to take out a bond to pay for any future cleanup if they close the dairy. He also wants the dairy owners to be held responsible for any damage to roads resulting from increased truck traffic and for any future water pollution. However, he said the location of the proposed dairy farm is the main problem, and if it were located 10 miles from Carrington he’d immediately close down his Web site.

Attempts to reach the Van Bedafs for comment were unsuccessful.

Frye said comments will be taken at the Feb. 26 hearing, but they should pertain to whether or not the proposed dairy farm meets the regulations of the conditional use permit. The commission has 90 days after the hearing to decide whether to grant the permit.

“A professional, proper decision will be made by zoning,” Frye said.

Sun reporter Jackie Hyra can be reached at (701) 952-8455 or by e-mail at jackieh@jamestownsun.com

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