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CAFO request approved, highlights area drainage issue

DAVISON COUNTY, S.D. - Stop us if you've heard this one before.

Neighbors aren't sure a proposed concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Davison County in South Dakota is the right fit for their area. But unlike other CAFO projects, the opposition isn't because of the sight, smell or sound of the operation.

The Davison County Commission unanimously approved a CAFO including 2,400 hogs west of Betts Road between 267th and 268th streets in the southern part of the county. Commissioners approved the conditional use permit for the CAFO because it didn't violate any local rules, but neighbors had concerns the poor drainage in the area would be heightened through the project.

"That flood map that they've got on there is not correct," said neighbor Chad Neugebauer at Tuesday's regular Davison County Commission meeting. "That field that they want to set the barn in is actually the worst flooding field of all of them."

On behalf of the landowner, Austin Luebke said the project brings some value-added to the land by providing him with manure for application. Chris DeRocher, who filed the request, said his responsibility will be site maintenance, while the contract for the farm will be held by Sunterra Farms.

Commissioner Denny Kiner asked Luebke if any other sites had been assessed for the project, to which Luebke said "I do not know if any research has been done." But A1 Development Solutions' Paul Kostboth, who conducted the "odor modelling" for the site, said the location was "98 percent nuisance free" for neighbors.

Before voting, Kiner pointed to the fact that the dispute neighbors had was with the location that occasionally has flooding issues, not the CAFO itself.

"Looks like the drainage is the problem, not the farm," Kiner said.

Commission Chair Brenda Bode said drainage should be addressed in the future, and other commissioners followed suit in that request. Bode also said she'd prefer the project is locally-owned, but said that's not up for the county to decide.

Just before the vote, Kiner suggested the CAFO discussion may have been a blessing in disguise.

"Might be the best thing that ever happened to get the drainage fixed over there," Kiner said.