County Staff Denied Citizens Access to Permit Application & Push For Approval
ZUMBROTA TOWNSHIP, Minn. — Neighbors to a controversial factory hog farm proposed in Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township have learned that the proposal clearly violates the county standards required to obtain a Conditional Use Permit. Without this permit, the project cannot be built. Despite this, county zoning staff are recommending approval and have twice denied a request from citizens for a full copy of the Conditional Use Permit application, which is public information. There is a public hearing on the permit scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today in Red Wing before the Goodhue County Planning Commission.
On Friday, Feb. 10, Zumbrota Township resident Leslie Luhman travelled to the Goodhue County Zoning office in Red Wing to obtain a copy of the Conditional Use Permit application. County zoning staff denied her request. A similar request for documents on Thursday, Feb. 9, by township resident Kristi Rosenquist was also denied. The only documentation for the proposed factory farm that’s been made available by officials is a limited selection of documents posted on the county website, including a recommendation by county staff that the Planning Commission approve the project.
“I want to see the permit application,” said Luhman, a Land Stewardship Project member. “That is what this public hearing is about. What are the county staff trying to hide? County staff are trying to push this through when we know it violates our county ordinance.”
While critical public information has been withheld, there is clear evidence the proposed factory farm is in violation of the Goodhue County ordinance. An analysis of the select documents the county has provided, information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and an inspection of the county file related to the project shows the proposal does not meet the requirements to obtain a Conditional Use Permit.
Attorney James Peters, who is representing neighbors to the proposed facility, this morning delivered a letter to the Goodhue County Attorney demanding that the public hearing be cancelled or, short of that, the permit be recommend for denial. The areas in which the proposed factory hog farm violates the county ordinance are detailed in Peters’ letter and 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.
A copy of Peters’ letter detailing the problems with the proposal is at https://landstewardshipproject.org/repository/1/2047/peters_letter_2_13_17.pdf.
Farmers and rural residents from across Goodhue County are expected to be at the Planning Commission hearing in Red Wing tonight to voice their concerns.
“We can’t allow a rubber-stamping of a dangerous proposal that would violate the county’s own ordinance,” said Zumbrota Township resident Sharon Pagel. “We’ll be there tonight to make sure the Planning Commission protects Goodhue County and follows the rules.”