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Controversy surrounds hog site location

Lincoln Township operation passes matrix; community forum ends with neighbors remaining friends

March 8, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The proposed hog buildings Thomas Olson plans to build in section 32 of Lincoln Township passed the master matrix with a score of 475/440. Kent Krause, president of Pinnacle Iowa, provided details of the scoring. Twenty-seven people attended the public hearing to speak about the confinement.

Roger Muller, said, "Build what you want on your home place. I don't want it in my back yard."

Sheriff Mike Martens entered the courthouse's boardroom at 10:15 as tempers flared.

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Muller said, "What's going to happen: this starts as a family farm operation, and then it's sold to a corporate farm who doesn't care about its neighbors."

Others wondered where the money was coming from for Olson,

Board of Supervisors chair Bev Juhl said, "If it fits in the matrix, that's what we're voting on today. We are not here to take each other apart. We're not here to question someone's finances. We are a rural community. When you are in an agricultural community, this is part of living."

Additional comments arose about the increased truck traffic on the roads, the flies, and being unable to open windows on a nice day in Gruver due to the smell.

Supervisor John Pluth said, "We have to be careful about setting too many rules, or it will affect everything we have now."

Jeff Quastad said, "You have to understand; we will vote based on their passage of the master matrix."

As requested by those opposed to the project, the supervisors entered into record a show of hands vote with 15 in attendance opposing, and 12 in favor of the project.

Victoria Spencer, who lives with COPD and has been affected by the air quality presented by some of the other hog confinements, said, "The Olsons were very kind and polite face to face. Our question is, we have not heard item one from them in the 13 years we have lived here. Now they come to us to offer money, plow our road, just to get us to sign a paper. Our happiness is threatened."

The question of who pays for the roads also came up. Supervisor Jeff Quastad said the taxpayers pay for the roads out of the rural services fund.

Dave Anderson read a letter written by Chuck Gardner voicing his opposition to the facility. Anderson also presented examples of public notices from Martin County, Minn., in which the notice was in larger font than that of the notices in publications such as the Estherville News.

The supervisors said while the county currently pays for such notices, the petitioning parties could instead do so, making it possible to publish notices in larger font.

The supervisors unanimously approved the master matrix for the site, with its score of 475 points. The motion includes noting the vote of the public present.

After the contentious public hearing for K & T Olson Swine, LLC, Site 2, in the hallways and parking lots, people on opposite sides of the issue talked to one another in smaller groups as neighbors and friends instead of opponents. The Olsons said they want to be good neighbors and that it would be a good thing to have a rubric that would measure whether an agribusiness neighbor was good for the neighborhood. If not, the neighbors could work together to preserve their quality of life.

County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth met next with the board and presented a resolution for public hearing on an updated weed spraying policy for the County, and also the STP Application for federal funding to the board for their signature. The STP funding will make it possible to mill and resurface County Road N52 from Hwy 4 to the Dolliver Access Road in 2021.



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