Clare hog project withdrawn

New hog confinement planned for west of Callender

A new hog confinement west of Callender now awaits approval by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, after the Webster County Board of Supervisors fulfilled its part of the process Tuesday.

The supervisors confirmed that the proposed site, which will be in Roland Township north of 290th Street near Carter Avenue, was scored correctly on the master matrix submitted with the application.

The site for the two new 2,480-head deep pit swine finisher confinement buildings is located out in the middle of a field, said Supervisor Mark Campbell.

“I think everybody will be happy with this location,” said Becky Sexton, with Twin Lakes Environmental Services.

Landowner Brad Van Kooten argued that the confinement would be too close to his home, and he can already smell one of the other confinements located farther away.

“The matrix is incorrect,” Van Kooten said. “It’s too broad, and it does not take into consideration the drainage ditch.”

Sexton said the site will be 1,170 feet away from the ditch. It is also 2,610 feet from the nearest home, while the matrix requires a minimum of 1,875 feet.

Bill Bahr, who has complained at past meetings that the area is “saturated” with hog confinements, also submitted a written objection.

Any changes to how the matrix is filled out would come from the state level. The supervisors have said they are in conversations with lawmakers.

“I would point out I think all of us are aware of the arguments for and against,” Supervisor Merrill Leffler said Tuesday. “Our job is just to review the matrix as it is under law today. Whether we agree with that law or not, that’s our job today. If you have problems, contact your legislators.”

Discussion over whether or not the state’s master matrix is in need of tweaking has been ongoing over the last few months as six new hog confinements were proposed in Webster County.

The owner of the most controversial of these has withdrawn their application, Leffler said. The supervisors learned about this Oct. 24.

The site would have had 5,000 head of swine about a mile and a half west of Clare. Clare residents and officials complained about the effect this would have on air quality in their town.

Citing water quality concerns, the supervisors on Sept. 20 asked the DNR to reject the application.

Now that it’s been withdrawn, Leffler said the supervisors don’t know what the developer’s plan is next, whether it will be resubmitted or changed or not.

“There has not been any other word on that property,” Leffler said.

The Webster County Planning and Zoning Commission held a meeting Nov. 3 to discuss potential amendments to the zoning code, and what changes, if any, landowners would like to see made with the state’s master matrix.

No concrete decisions were made at that meeting, said Planning and Zoning Administrator Lonnie Nichols, but about 20 participants had a good, open discussion.

At least one hog farmer was there, and “brought a different perspective than people who have not built one,” Nichols said.

The commission will meet again, Nichols said, to review the master matrix scoring system, and bring some recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.