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Animal feedlots causing division in Bon Homme County

TYNDALL (AP) -- Opponents of large animal feeding operations in Bon Homme County have submitted petitions seeking a moratorium on further permits. Opponents want the county zoning board to review ordinances and consider more restrictions for feed...

TYNDALL (AP) - Opponents of large animal feeding operations in Bon Homme County have submitted petitions seeking a moratorium on further permits.

Opponents want the county zoning board to review ordinances and consider more restrictions for feedlots to safeguard the health and property of others, and also the environment.

Proposed new hog operations in the county have created sharply-divided opinions among many residents, prompting the zoning board to hold an informational meeting on Monday.

The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reports that the county has approved four permits this year for feedlot operations, including three 2,400-head hog operations. That has led to complaints, though some people at a public hearing Monday also spoke in favor of the operations, citing their impact on the economy.

The meeting opened opened with resident Robert Jerke presenting petitions calling for the moratorium.

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"We're requesting a moratorium on any new building permit and/or conditional use permit for any confined animal feeding operation or enclosed animal housing facility (with) over 300 animal units," he said. "It'll allow time for the zoning board to review the county zoning ordinances."

Gary Jerke, a former state legislator, said he would consider legal action to block a neighboring large hog farm.

"This feels like David and Goliath, and I'm David," he said. "But I believe we need an emergency moratorium in order to study it further. The county also needs to realize it could face legal liability if nothing is addressed."

In response to an audience question, Bon Homme County State's Attorney Lisa Rothschadl said the county cannot overturn or alter permits which have already been issued. The permits would be grandfathered should the county make zoning changes in the future.

Residents David and Kayla Guthmiller also addressed the meeting, acknowledging their proposed hog operation was drawing much of the controversy.

David disputed any characterization of their operation as a "factory farm." He said he was merely using modern practices while still safeguarding the environment.

"We don't grow corn like we did 20 years ago," he said. "We need to adapt to the times and be aggressive."

County zoning officials didn't act Monday on the moratorium request but promised more discussion on the matter.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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