ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bon Homme, S.D., amending zoning ordinance for animal feeding units

TYNDALL, S.D. -- During a meeting that lasted nearly four hours, the Bon Homme County zoning board heard concerns from opponents and proponents of animal feedlots, ultimately motioning to draft an amendment to the county's zoning ordinance.

Members of the Bon Homme County zoning board spoke at length Monday night at the Bon Homme County Courthouse in Tyndall about amending the current zoning regulations to allow more leeway in its approval of animal operations. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Members of the Bon Homme County zoning board spoke at length Monday night at the Bon Homme County Courthouse in Tyndall about amending the current zoning regulations to allow more leeway in its approval of animal operations. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

TYNDALL, S.D. - During a meeting that lasted nearly four hours, the Bon Homme County zoning board heard concerns from opponents and proponents of animal feedlots, ultimately motioning to draft an amendment to the county's zoning ordinance.

The county currently requires a conditional use permit for operations of 1,000 animal units or more, matching the state requirement. After opponents asked for more restrictions to safeguard the health and property of others and the environment, the zoning board is recommending more stringent requirements for large feeding operations. The board motioned that the planning commission will draft an amendment to zoning ordinance creating a third class of animal feeding to include 500 to 999 animal units, and will amend language of the ordinance for animal units of 1,000-plus animal units.

Board members spoke at length Monday night at the Bon Homme County Courthouse in Tyndall about amending the current zoning regulations to allow more leeway in its approval of animal operations. According to Brian McGinnis, community development specialist from Planning and Development for District III, if an operation wants to increase from 999 head of cattle to 2,000, it has to go through a public hearing in which neighbors can veto the proposal. That can be due to legitimate concern or for no reason at all, McGinnis said.

"Right now, that's it, you're done. Cattle, turkey, hogs, you can't expand," he said.

Under the proposed amendment, the zoning board would be allowed to "use their judgement" on operations of 1,000-plus head of cattle, and push a conditional permit forward, even without the approval of all area neighbors. If the neighbor appears to have no rationale behind their opposition, McGinnis said the board then has a duty to allow the operation to move forward, if the board believes it is in good faith.

ADVERTISEMENT

The proposal is the result of the recently approved hog operations in northern Bon Homme County to be built by David and Kayla Guthmiller, who were not present at the meeting.

Among discussion, county officials and residents agreed that the issue comes down to a lack of trust between producers and consumers. Justin Rothschadl said, in general, the public doesn't trust that the heads of animal operations won't take into account what is best for the community, while also expanding their businesses.

"Just because someone shows up to a meeting and doesn't like what you're doing, doesn't mean they can stop you. They better have fact-based opinions," Rothschadl said.

But, Rothschadl said, if there's one good thing that has come from the continued discussion and debate over zoning ordinances, it's that the general public has heightened it knowledge about how animal operations are run.

"As a society, there's a bigger concern in where our food is going. There's a lack of trust in government officials, friends ... A lot of people have been educated on a lot of things," Rothschadl said.

But, as the board began hashing out ideas for a proposal to present to the Bon Homme County Commission, technicalities became a problem.

Leroy Jerke asked for a public vote and a differentiation in obtaining building permits for animal operations and other buildings, like garages and sheds.

But, McGinnis said, the proposal must be decided by the board, and can not legally be taken to a public vote until after a proposal is adopted. Then, if within 20 days of the legislative act, local residents can file a petition, after which it can go to a public vote of the people.

ADVERTISEMENT

Or, if the zoning board doesn't adopt a proposal, the public can write its own ordinance, get 5 percent of voters to support it and have it voted upon by the county.

"It's required as a board ... you have to make a tough decision," McGinnis said. "They're not putting it off, they can't defer to a people's vote. They have to make a decision, people react to that, or don't make a decision and people can make an action."

Moving forward, commissioner and zoning board member Mike Soukup will give an update to the commission today, McGinnis will draft the proposed amendment and provide copies to planning commission, which will then set a public hearing date.

Related Topics: LIVESTOCKSOUTH DAKOTA
What To Read Next
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its pipeline project will help ethanol plants. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
The number of cows going to slaughter is far above the five-year average. Attendees of the annual Cow Calf Days tour in Minnesota heard the latest on cattle trends.
As Mikkel Pates approaches his retirement from Agweek after 44 years in journalism, he talks to Rose Dunn about learning TV, covering ag's characters and scandals and looking toward the future.
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.