Meeker County Board OKs feedlot expansion near Lake Minnie Belle
LITCHFIELD -- A conditional use permit for a feedlot expansion near Lake Minnie Belle was approved 4-1 Tuesday by the Meeker County Board. The permit will allow Dan Fitterer to expand his dairy feedlot from 40 cows to 160, which is equivalent to ...
LITCHFIELD -- A conditional use permit for a feedlot expansion near Lake Minnie Belle was approved 4-1 Tuesday by the Meeker County Board.
The permit will allow Dan Fitterer to expand his dairy feedlot from 40 cows to 160, which is equivalent to 240 animal units. The feedlot's size remains below the limit of 300 animal units within the county's shoreland.
"I'm certainly happy that the permit has been approved," Fitterer said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Commissioners Ron Kutzke, Jim Swenson, Hugh Wagner and Amy Wilde voted for it while chairman Dave Gabrielson voted against its approval.
Fitterer applied for the permit last summer, but a request for an environmental assessment delayed the permitting process. The feedlot is about 300 feet from the lake, which is south of Litchfield in Greenleaf Township. The lake has about 340 residential lots surrounding it.
A group of citizens petitioned for an environmental assessment worksheet, which is a screening tool used to determine the potential environmental effects of a project.
After reviewing the worksheet, the board decided in January that a more in-depth study, called an environmental impact statement, was not necessary for the project.
A group of 23 people called Friends of Lake Minnie Belle is appealing the county's decision not to require the environmental impact statement. The group is concerned about the expansion's impact on water and air quality and property values.
The appeal hadn't been filed in Meeker County District Court as of Wednesday afternoon.
But the group submitted a summons and complaint to the Meeker County auditor and Dan Fitterer within the allotted 30 days after the county's decision, which preserves its right to appeal.
The group had wanted to wait to file the appeal until the county made a decision on the permit.
A call to the group's attorney was not immediately returned by Wednesday evening.
The county Planning Commission recommended the permit's approval as long as Fitterer meets 37 conditions. The board revised those conditions in early March and then attempted to vote on the permit at its last March meeting.
The board failed to reach a decision, however, because Swenson was absent and Wagner decided to abstain from voting.
Wilde and Kutzke voted for the permit while Gabrielson voted against it. The board needed at least three affirmative votes for it to pass, and it was thus tabled until Tuesday.
Fitterer said he plans to start construction in the next two to three weeks. Construction will stop in the summer, however, because contractors are already committed to other projects for the season, he said. The expansion work will begin again in September, he said.
Changes will be made to two existing barns at the farm. A plastic liner will be added to the manure basin, which also will be expanded. Later Fitterer plans to add another barn.
The cows will be added to the feedlot in phases over five years, he said, unless the economy changes that plan. He said he hasn't heard anything more about the appeal.
"Certainly that is in the back of your mind, but the plan is to move forward unless a judge tells me to stop," he said.
The Fitterer family has owned the farm since 1947.