Confinements meet matrix criteria, and opposition

Dencklau: Two declined sites didn’t address local concerns

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
David Odor, who lives just southeast of Duncombe, tells the Webster County Board of Supervisors he’s worried two new hog facilities in the area would jeopardize the water quality in Brushy Creek Recreation Area. Over 55 people came to the hearing. The supervisors will officially ask the DNR not to approve two confinements near Duncombe.

The Webster County Supervisors disapproved two out of three proposed hog confinements that would be built in the county at its regular meeting Tuesday.

More than 55 people attended the meeting, with multiple voices speaking out against two confinements that would be built near Duncombe.

But in spite of voicing their disapproval, the supervisors also certified that all three sites had enough points to pass the state’s master matrix. The board can only confirm or deny that the facilities were scored properly using the state’s master matrix, and then recommend or not recommend that to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The DNR will then have the final say.

No one at the meeting spoke out against the confinement nearer to Gowrie, although Supervisor Mark Campbell read one resident’s letter opposed to it.

The supervisors approved it with no objections.

Supervisor Keith Dencklau acknowledged the two proposed sites that were ultimately declined had scored enough points to be built, but said they shouldn’t be located there anyway.

“Some of the points they took had nothing to do with the location of this facility,” he said. “They took points for ag drainage wells, hospitals, child care facilities, educational institutions and religious institutions. They also took points for the building of already industry standards for this environment. What they didn’t take points for was air quality, emergency containment, installation of filters and landscaping to reduce odor, ground water monitoring, economic value to the community, local community support.”

Dencklau represents the district including the Duncombe area, which he said is why he was asked to read this statement.

“These observations demonstrate they didn’t put much thought or effort to ensure their new facilities are site-specific and address the concerns of the people and the intent of the master matrix, which was to protect the air, water and community,” Dencklau continued.

“This is not acceptable, and we ask that you deny this application. I’m asking that.”

Representatives from Iowa Select Farms were there to answer questions about the proposed confinements.

The facilities will be owned by Richard Stark, said Becky Sexton, who aided in submitting the applications.

Dr. John Stinn, an engineer for Iowa Select and resident of Webster City, said the new sites will use both new and old methods to control smell. They’ll have an electrostatic filtration fence, he said, which will capture particles before they leave the site.

The facilities will also have trees planted around them, Stinn said.

“They are not small investments, but it’s something we feel is important,” he said.

But the supervisors said the sites didn’t take any points on the matrix for these items, which means the farms can’t be compelled to keep their promise.

“Is it something you’re choosing to do, or you’re guaranteeing to do?” Dencklau asked.

“I applaud Iowa Select for these movements,” Supervisor Merrill Leffler said. “But since it is Richard Stark’s barns, is it not Richard Stark that is building these facilities, and will have to put the biofilters in, and will put the trees in? We have Iowa Select saying these things will be done, but we don’t have the owner of the property saying that. I personally would wish they would put them in the matrix, taken the points.”

“You understand if they put these things in the master matrix, then it has to be taken care of at all times. If a tree dies, they got to replace it,” Dencklau said. “If a filter gets plugged up, they have to replace the filter. Some of these things cost a lot of money, and they refuse to do some of this stuff because of the cost.”

The two confinements questioned by the board are the Dunco finisher site, a 5,000-head, two-building site located on Washington Avenue between 200th and 210th streets, and the Newark finisher site, a 7,490-head, two-building site, located on 200th Street east of Taylor Avenue.

Dunco received a matrix score of 455 and Newark received 480, the board said. A score of 440 is needed to pass.

The board found no errors in the scoring, Leffler said, so it was required to approve those numbers.

The board has changed scoring in the past for sites they felt weren’t scored correctly, he said.

The third site is the Carter finisher site, a 5,000-head, two-building site, located on Carter Avenue near 340th Street, between Gowrie and Farnhamville. The site received a 510 score.

Duncombe Mayor Dennis Banks, on behalf of that town’s council, wrote a letter to voice the city’s “concern and displeasure” with the Dunco site, which would be about 4,395 feet from the Duncombe city limits.

“The city is concerned that operations of this hog confinement within such close proximity to the city will cause problems with air quality due to the confinement and application of manure byproduct,” Banks wrote. “The city is also concerned about the placement of the confinement and manure application next to the drainage ditch that runs directly into Brushy Creek. The placement of this confinement is less than a mile from city limits, and within two miles of our water wells, which is a major concern.”

David Odor, who lives near Duncombe, also spoke of concern for water quality in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area. Both Duncombe-area proposed confinements are directly upstream from the lake, he said.

“More than 520,000 people visit Brushy Creek Recreational Area every year, and this lake is one of the county’s largest draws to the area,” Odor said.

The decision is in the DNR’s hands now, Dencklau said. He said the DNR was invited to send representatives to the meeting, but did not come.

Dencklau said the board has talked with state legislators with their concerns.

“They’re the only ones who can get this changed. Our hands are kind of tied here,” he said. “Everybody here today, if you have concerns about the master matrix, you need to talk to your legislators and your senators and ask them to look into it.”

To see video of the meeting, visit messengernews.net.

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