Ordinance changes would establish setbacks for the feedlots within the county
WILLMAR -- Proposed changes to Kandiyohi County's zoning ordinance would establish setbacks for new or expanding feedlots from a municipality.
Zoning Administrator Gary Geer presented the proposed changes Monday to the Planning Commission. The advisory board took no formal action but had a "favorable" reaction to the draft changes, he said.
Geer said the board will likely take action in January or February on whether or not to proceed with the next step in the process, which would be to set a date for a public hearing to take testimony.
The proposed ordinance changes are being made in response to a request by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners to review feedlot zoning.
That request stems from an issue earlier this year when residents of Hawick objected to Jennie-O Turkey Store's application for conditional use permits to build additional turkey barns near the unincorporated town in Roseville Township in northern Kandiyohi County.
Despite concerns by some County Board members at the time, the permits were approved on a 3-2 vote.
Because of differing opinions by the County Board members, and because Roseville Township then imposed a one-year moratorium on the construction of feedlots, the County Board asked Geer and the Planning Commission to review the ordinance.
Under the current ordinance, conditional use permits are required for feedlots within one mile of a town with 10,000 or more people and within a half-mile of a town with fewer than 10,000 people.
Geer said the current distances of one mile and a half-mile are "triggers" that signal the need for a conditional use permit.
He said there has been some confusion in the past because some consider the distances as "setbacks" that would prohibit a feedlot. That currently is not the case, he said. Feedlots can be located within that distance, but a conditional use permit is required.
If the proposed changes are approved, however, official setbacks would be established that would prohibit feedlots near municipalities.
A setback of one mile would be imposed from towns such as Willmar with a population of more than 10,000 for feedlots of 300 or more animal units. New feedlots of 150 or more animal units would be prohibited a half-mile from Willmar and a feedlot with 50 or more animal units would be prohibited a quarter-mile from the city.
For towns with fewer than 10,000 people, the larger feedlots would be prohibited within a half-mile, and a quarter-mile setback would be imposed for feedlots with 100 or more animal units.
There are provisions in the proposed changes that would allow existing feedlots in the setback areas to expand to double their current animal unit numbers. If the expansion is greater than 100 percent, the expansion would be prohibited or have to be scaled down to meet the size limits.
Geer said the changes "sound pretty restrictive" but in reality "won't affect large agricultural producers because they're not looking" to put feedlots close to cities. Usually they're seeking "more rural areas" for feedlots, he said.
Under the proposed changes, the new brooder barns Jennie-O Turkey Store is permitted to build a quarter-mile away from Hawick would not be allowed because the expansion was greater than 100 percent, Geer said.
All new or expanding feedlots of 300 or more animals units, no matter where they are located, still need to go through a conditional use permit.