Wang Township adopts a feedlot moratorium

WANG TOWNSHIP, RENVILLE COUNTY -- Wang Township's Board of Supervisors enacted a one-year moratorium on large feedlot construction at a special meeting Monday night at the town hall.

WANG TOWNSHIP, RENVILLE COUNTY -- Wang Township's Board of Supervisors enacted a one-year moratorium on large feedlot construction at a special meeting Monday night at the town hall.

The action comes in the wake of local opposition to plans by Roger and Nancy Punt of Renville to erect a two-barn, 4,800-head feeder pig operation in the township.

Township board chairman Roger Lerohl said some 40 to 50 township residents attended the meeting.

The moratorium will apply to the proposed project, said Lerohl. Along with approving the moratorium, the township supervisors retained attorney Jim Peters of Alexandria to assist them in the process ahead, according to Lerohl.

There are currently no large animal feedlots in the township. Lerohl said the board of supervisors felt it was important to stop and take a look at the issue of feedlots. "Things are moving so fast,'' he said.


The township supervisors will appoint a committee and possibly draft a township ordinance to regulate feedlots. State law allows townships to adopt ordinances that set stricter standards than those of the county or state.

While there was no disguising the opposition to the proposed project by township residents attending the meeting, Lerohl said the township supervisors made known their concern about the potential for large feedlots of all types. He said the recent application to develop a 6,000-head dairy operation in Swift County was often cited by supervisors as a reason for their concern.

Residents near the proposed pig feedlot have organized to stop the project. They have voiced concerns about the potential for odors from the barns and manure application, and adverse health effects they believe could result from dust and gases. Residents said they also believe the operation will decrease the value of their properties, and are concerned about its proximity to a drainage ditch and risk for manure spills, according to David Hovda, who lives near the site of the proposed feedlot.

Hovda said the neighbors were "extremely happy'' with the action by the township supervisors.

He said the neighbors are now hopeful that the action will persuade the Renville County Board of Commissioners to reject the project.

The commissioners are expected to decide whether to grant a conditional use permit for the feedlot project at their meeting on Nov. 22.

The county's planning and zoning committee had recommended its approval on a 4-3 vote. County Environment and Community Development director Mark Erickson said he believed that the lack of a requirement to install biofilters on the building led to the split vote.

Roger Punt has since pledged to add biofilters to the buildings. He said the buildings' design is very effective at reducing odor emissions. Animal wastes would be stored below the barns in pits capable of holding 12 to 16 months' worth of waste. The manure would be injected into fields.


Roger Punt said he did not learn about the township action to place a one-year moratorium on large feedlot construction until contacted Thursday by the Tribune. As a result, he said he did not yet know how it might affect the project.

The feedlot would be owned by Roger and Nancy Punt doing business as RANCO LLC on a five-acre site in Section one of Wang Township. The animals would be raised as part of the Holland Pork operation based in Prinsburg.

An environmental assessment worksheet completed for the project found the project would create no significant health or environmental effects. The 4,800 head of feeder pigs represents 1,920 animal units in Renville County, or just below the 2,000-animal unit maximum allowed by the county.

The township's moratorium on large feedlots applies to operations of 300 animal units or more. That would place a limit of 700 on finishing hogs, according chairman Lerohl.

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