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Date Set for County Board’s Hearing on Feedlot Conditional Use Permit

The Dundy County Commissioners will have the final say in the county permitting process involved in  the proposed 100,000 head feedlot in northern Dundy County.  The Dundy County Planning Commission recommended the passage of the required Conditional Use Permit for the Blackshirt Feeders LP feedlot last Tuesday.  The Conditional Use Permit now is in the hands of the Dundy County Commissioners to either approve or deny.

     The Commissioners held a lengthy discussion during their regular meeting on Monday about the process they must go through to take action on the permit. County Zoning Administrator Pam Reichert was in attendance at the meeting.  Reichert told the Commissioners to “not get the cart ahead of the horse”, in regards to their discussions about the proposed feedlot or the Conditional Use Permit. They needed to follow the required public Open Meetings process before any detailed discussion.

     Just like the County Planning Commission, the Dundy County Commissioners are required to hold a public hearing before taking action on the Conditional Use Permit. The Commissioners set that date and will hold the public hearing at a Special Meeting on March 16 at 1:30PM in the Dundy County District Court room. The Commissioners could take action on the Conditional Use Permit for Blackshirt Feeders following the hearing on that day.

     Much of the conversation at the Commissioners meeting, was about the added stipulations that would have to be attached to the permit and would have to be met by Blackshirt Feeders before construction could begin if the Commissioners approved the Conditional Use Permit.  The County Commissioners hired Keith Marvin, a Planning and Zoning Consultant who has many years of experience working with Nebraska counties on issues involving county zoning permits.  Marvin was on the phone with the Commissioners during their discussions on Monday. Marvin told the Commissioners they must be very careful in their discussions prior to the public hearing as to not make it appear as though a decision has been made before said public hearing. The Commissioners asked Marvin about adding stipulations to the Conditional Use Permit.

     The Dundy County Planning Commission added 13 individual stipulations to their recommendation of approval of the Conditional Use Permit. Marvin told the Commissioners, when they decide to take action on the Conditional Use Permit, in their motions they can make sure their concerns are covered. They can approve the Conditional Use Permit contingent on those added stipulations and Blackshirt Feeders could not start construction until those conditions are met.  With the 13 individual stipulations recommended by the County Planning Commission, the County Commissioners have the authority to change or eliminate any or all of those. Marvin told the Commissioners that they could go ahead and review those stipulations before the public hearing on March 16. During their discussion on Monday, the Commissioners went through the 13 stipulations and only talked about changing a few of them.

     The one that got the most attention was the stipulation that involved a road maintenance agreement between Dundy County, Chase County, and Blackshirt Feeders. Dundy County Commissioners would be interested in building an all-weather surface road to the county line from Highway 61 west to the proposed feedlot and to do that they would have to work with the Chase County Commissioners. County Roads Superintendent Kent Anderson told the Commissioners that the cost to build such a road would be about $1-million a mile for concrete or about $800,000 a mile for asphalt. The feedlot is located over three miles to the west of Highway 61.  Marvin told the Commissioners they shouldn’t get that specific with the added stipulations, such as naming a specific road or new road. He said those things can be worked out within the road contract. The county just needs to specify that a road contract needs to be in place.  The Commissioners asked Marvin if they could remove mention of Chase County from the stipulations, since they have no jurisdiction over their neighbor’s county businesses. Marvin said they could, but warned them that could lead to lawsuits.

     Chairman Scott Olson said he thought the stipulation involving, no land application of manure for fertilizer on frozen ground, needed changed. He said the best time to spread dried manure for fertilizer was on frozen ground, but you don’t want to spread or spray the wet manure fertilizer when the ground is frozen.  The Commissioners also want to remove the 13th stipulation that states the NRD must approve the feedlot’s water use, because they have no control of the NRD. They felt the NRD would have to approve the water use anyway or the feedlot would not be able to operate.  The Commissioners discussion continued for over an hour before adjorning the meeting. They could continue their review of the added stipulations at their next meeting on February 21.

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