County approves permits for turkey barns near Hawick

WILLMAR -- In two tie-breaking votes Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners approved conditional use permits for Jennie-O Turkey Store to build four new barns near Hawick, in Roseville Township.

WILLMAR -- In two tie-breaking votes Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners approved conditional use permits for Jennie-O Turkey Store to build four new barns near Hawick, in Roseville Township.

But an interim ordinance that was given final approval Monday night by the Roseville Town Board places a one-year moratorium on feedlot expansions in the entire township. The opposing actions by two government bodies may put the Jennie-O project in limbo.

Troy Gilchrist, the attorney representing Roseville Township, said because the township moratorium went into place Monday night -- before the county conditional use permits were approved Tuesday afternoon -- Jennie-O is restricted from constructing the barns.

Denis Anderson, representing Jennie-O, said the company's attorney is "of the opinion that the moratorium cannot be back-dated, so we would not fall under the moratorium for the proposals that we got approved today."

Jennie-O applied for the permits in June.


Gilchrist said it doesn't matter when Jennie-O applied to the county for the conditional use permits. What matters is that the township's moratorium went into effect before the county granted the conditional use permits.

Anderson said Jennie-O intends to continue with the process, which includes making an application to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for feedlot permits.

Gilchrist said if Jennie-O proceeds with construction while the moratorium is in place, court action would be likely. Likewise, he said, Jennie-O could challenge the township's interim ordinance.

Some township residents -- including some of the estimated 125 residents of the unincorporated town of Hawick -- have raised objections to having more turkey barns concentrated near Hawick.

One of the barns, a brooder facility, is proposed to be built within a quarter-mile of the community.

Residents have expressed repeated concerns about contamination of drinking water in the shallow wells that are common in the area, as well as concerns about odor from turkey litter and increased truck traffic.

Hawick already has turkey barns in its backyard, Gilchrist said, as well as a demolition landfill nearby. The cumulative effect of adding four more large turkey barns "is just going to tip the balance," he said, and will be too much for "one community to bear."

Gilchrist said the township isn't opposed to Jennie-O and isn't opposed to feedlots, but said the additional barns so close to Hawick could "be the straw that broke the camel's back" for the small northern Kandiyohi County community.


By passing the interim ordinance, Roseville Township has the right to invoke a moratorium and will be given a year to study the pros and cons of implementing its own zoning ordinance.

Gilchrist said the moratorium is in place during that year of study, until the township implements its own zoning regulations or until the interim ordinance is revoked.

The action by the township apparently did not sit well with one member of the County Board.

Kandiyohi County Commissioner Richard Falk, of Willmar, said he was set to vote against the permit for the barn closest to Hawick until the township approved the moratorium.

"It changed my vote," said Falk. "They were putting a moratorium in for a year and trying to circumvent the process of the county."

Falk said the township was "badly informed" by their legal counsel to proceed with the interim ordinance.

"It's my opinion that the people of Hawick convinced the town board that they were going for broke. And it changed my vote." Falk said the township didn't give Jennie-O's compromise plan a fair shot.

Falk and Richard Larson, who also represents Willmar, voted for the brooder barn closest to Hawick, as well as a separate motion for three others barns across the road.


Commissioner Dennis Peterson, who represents the northeastern part of the county -- including Roseville Township, voted against the conditional use permits for both proposals, as did Commissioner Dean Shuck.

Chairman Harlan Madsen broke the tie in both cases by voting in favor of the conditional use permits.

Shuck represents the northwestern portion of the county and Madsen represents the southern part of the county.

Meanwhile, the commissioners unanimously approved conditional use permits for Jennie-O to build additional turkey barns in Arctander and Burbank townships.

Also, the commissioners overturned a recommendation by the Planning Commission regarding rezoning land on East Woodcock Lake near Spicer.

The Planning Commission had voted in July that Don Anderson's request be denied to rezone lakeshore property from resource management to residential.

On a 4-1 vote, the county commissioners approved rezoning the land, which will allow up to 12 homes to be built on the 40 acres. With the resource management zone, only four homes would've been allowed.

Shuck cast the lone vote against the rezoning.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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