Goodhue County Planning Commission Approves Factory Farm Based on Mystery Documents Kept from Public

Citizen Testimony Documents that Proposed Factory Hog Farm Violates Goodhue County Ordinance

REDWING, Minn. — Neighbors to a controversial factory hog farm proposed in Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township were shocked when the Goodhue Planning Commission Monday night recommended approval of a Conditional Use Permit for the project based on documents produced at the hearing and kept from the public. The issue now goes to the Goodhue County Board, which makes the final decision.

During the Planning Commission hearing Monday evening, 27 Goodhue County residents and farmers testified in opposition to the proposal, detailing how it will harm the community and the ways in which is violates the county ordinance. Violations include:

• Required manure spreading agreements are missing.

• The project will negatively impact nearby property values in violation of the county ordinance.

• The proposed feedlot is proposed in a high-risk karst area and will be a pollution hazard.

That morning attorney James Peters, who is representing neighbors to the proposed facility, delivered a letter to the Goodhue County Attorney demanding that the permit be recommend for denial. A copy of Peters’ letter detailing the problems with the proposal is at http://landstewardshipproject.org/repository/1/2047/peters_letter_2_13_17.pdf.

Repeated citizen requests last week for a copy of the permit application were denied by county zoning staff. County Land Use Management Director Lisa Hanni made the permit application available only hours before the hearing. Incredibly, as citizens repeatedly brought up during testimony that the application was missing the required manure spreading agreements, Hanni claimed she had them, referencing pieces of paper that she did not share with the public.

“This is outrageous,” said Sam Michels, a neighbor to the proposed project. “The county staff has blocked us from getting public information. Now they produce mystery documents, which they claim are manure spreading agreements, that we aren’t allowed to see, and they didn’t even consider the information we gave them. This is undemocratic and wrong.”

Neighbors are calling on the County Board of Commissioners to abide by the Goodhue County ordinance and deny the permit. County Commissioner Jason Majerus has committed to abstain from the vote due to a conflict of interest — he has business ties to the Kohlnhofer family that is proposing the facility.

“We won’t allow a rubber-stamping of a dangerous proposal that would violate the county’s own ordinance,” said Zumbrota Township resident David Post. “We’ll be calling on the County Commissioners to listen to the public and follow the rules.”

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