Citizens Denied Access to Public Information from Goodhue County on Eve of Critical Hearing on Factory Hog Farm

RED WING, Minn. — Zumbrota Township residents were denied access twice this week to a copy of the Conditional Use Permit application for the Kohlnhofer factory hog farm being proposed in their community. They were denied access to the information despite the fact that a public hearing is scheduled for the Conditional Use Permit on Monday, Feb. 13.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Zumbrota Township resident Kristi Rosenquist traveled to the Goodhue County zoning office in Red Wing to review the Kohlnhofers’ Conditional Use Permit application and requested a copy of the file, as well as other information. After filing a formal data practices request, she waited around for hours, but was ultimately refused a copy.

“We haven’t been provided information we need for the public hearing on Monday,” said Rosenquist. “The county didn’t even provide the permit application on their website. Instead, they offered a document from county staff encouraging the Planning Commission to approve the proposal. What don’t they want the public to know?”

Today at 4 p.m., Zumbrota Township resident Leslie Luhman requested a copy of the Conditional Use Permit application from Planning and Zoning Administrator Michael Wozniak, and was again refused a copy. Wozniak asked Luhman why she wanted to see the permit application and refused to give her the information. After Luhman said she would call a reporter, Wozniak gave her only two pages of the file, which contained little information. (To view the two pages of the file that were attained, click here.)

“How can they have a public hearing on information that the public isn’t allowed to see?,” said Luhman. “The public hearing is on Monday, and I’m being denied access to critical documents. What are they hiding?”

The Kohlnhofers are seeking a Goodhue County Conditional Use Permit for a 4,700-hog factory farm with a 3.5-million-gallon liquid manure pit in Zumbrota Township. This project has been highly controversial, with neighbors repeatedly expressing their opposition. Dozens of Goodhue County residents are expected to attend the Goodhue County Planning Commission hearing on Feb. 13, starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Goodhue County Government Center in Red Wing.