by George Thompson, Reporter and Farmer
The concentrated animal feed operation (CAFO) section in Day County’s zoning ordinances was put to the test last week when a beginning York Township farmer sought a conditional use permit to feed up to 480 cattle.
Scott Schiley sought the permit as a final piece in a project that would involve construction of a 66×264 foot building with a deep underground manure pit under it. The operation would pump manure to nearby fields where it would be directly knifed into the ground.
The project is partially funded through a beginning farmer program and will follow NRCS guidelines. The agency will also monitor the new system upon its completion.
Because of the number of livestock involved, the feedlot is likely to be eligible for a Class C or D permit and therefore not subject to DENR regulations.
According to zoning director Dari Schlotte, the project appears to meet all setback requirements and the applicant has obtained building and approach permits.
The designing engineer says his projections indicate the new facility shouldn’t pose air pollution problems to the nearest resident who lives .8 mile away. He said this state-of-the-art design has caught on with feeders in states to the east and is now cropping up here.
Jeff Schiley, owner of a confined hog operation just across the road and Scott’s father, said the site was determined by several agencies who all felt that this is the best location. Several other people in the audience testified on behalf of the project.
Randy Czmowski, whose residence is nearest the project, urged the commissioners to deny the permit. He said he isn’t against livestock production but worries about added air pollution. Czmowski said the hog confinement operation has forced his family to stay indoors three to four days a week and to air condition their home because they have to keep the windows closed. He said he is planning to plant a tree belt in order to dissipate the odor and felt the Schileys have other options when it comes to locating their feed yard. Several other people also testified on behalf of the Czmowskis.
A subsequent vote resulted in a 2-2 deadlock, with commissioner Gary Block abstaining because he is related to one of the parties.
At the time, it appeared the CUP was dead, but later at last week’s meeting, states attorney Dan Smeins convinced the board to hold a special P&Z meeting on May 7 to revisit the issue.
During testimony, Smeins recommended a CUP be issued subject to Schiley following all air pollution guidelines and, that any NRCS monitoring reports be available for county inspection. Normally those findings aren’t open to outside inspection.