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Zumbrota Township feedlot challenged in court

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The third floor meeting room in the Government Center in Red Wing was packed with concerned neighbors during the Planning Advisory Commission meeting on Feb. 13. (photo by Kit Murray)2 / 2

Neighbors opposed to a high-profile Zumbrota Township feedlot had their concerns heard Thursday, Sept. 21, before the Minnesota Court of Appeals in St. Paul.

Township residents seek to have the court overturn the county's decision to approve a conditional-use permit for the proposed feedlot, arguing plans submitted by the Kohlnhofer family and Circle K Family Farms do not meet county ordinance standards.

With support from the non-profit Land Stewardship Project organization, a couple dozen residents gathered resources over the summer to present an argument against the feedlot. Released last week, a report titled, "A Community at Risk: A Report on Citizen's Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring at Kohlnhofer Factory Hog Farms in Goodhue County, Minn.," details hydrogen sulfide emissions from existing Kohlnhofer hog facilities in the state, which were said to be at dangerous levels, putting air quality at risk.

The proposed Zumbrota Township feedlot would run with a capacity of 1,410 animal units of swine with an equivalent head count of 4,700 animals. Goodhue County Board approved a permit for the operation Feb. 21 following an unanimous recommendation by the Planning Advisory Commission.

Neighbors concerns include environmental impacts and reduced property values.

"It's unacceptable for the Goodhue County Board to push through a factory farm permit that violates our ordinance," said Dale Post, a farmer who lives next to the proposed feedlot. "The rules in our ordinance are clear."

According to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the project, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the findings and determined "the project does not result in the potential for significant environmental impacts."

The project required a conditional-use permit from the county for three reasons:

• the feedlot exceeds 500 animal units,

• includes a pit for animal waste that exceeds 500,000 gallons and

• includes an animal feedlot proposed to be located outside of a farmyard.

The appeals court has 90 days to issue a ruling.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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