Recommendation accepted for Weldco permit
Phillips County Board of Commissioners accepted the recommendation by the Phillips County Board of Adjustment to approve a conditional use permit for Weldco Farms LLC with 20 conditions.
The motion passed 2-1 in a roll call vote, with Don Lock and Terry Hofmeister in favor and Harlan Stern against.
About 25 people were in attendance at Phillips County Event Center on Wednesday, Sept. 30, for this agenda item. Several of them spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.
County planner Pam Jensen provided the decision to Weldco Farms LLC last week. On Monday, Oct. 5, she said that Weldco Farms LLC has accepted the conditions associated with the conditional use permit. Therefore, Weldco Farms LLC is permitted to build its heifer feedlot on the SW1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 22, T7N, R45W.
The piece of land in question is less than 160 acres in Section 22, which was zoned A2. The application asked for its use to be changed from farmland to animal feeding. Aurora Organic Farms is proposing to construct a commercial feedlot southwest of Holyoke that will house 7,000 dairy heifers when fully operational.
The conditions, which were read by Hofmeister at Wednesday’s meeting, covered water studies, air quality control standards, dust control, road closures, buffer zones, manure piles, parasite prevention, mobile homes, light pollution, construction, violations and more.
The conditions will be posted on the Phillips County website after the board of commissioners approves its Sept. 30 meeting minutes.
Hofmeister said it was not an easy decision, and his decision was made for all of the county. He knows how hard the board of adjustment worked on this. Hofmeister appreciates every call and letter received on the subject. The commissioners heard opinions on all ends of the spectrum, he added.
Lock said this is good for the county, noting he was impressed with how clean the facilities were during a tour of another location of the company.
Stern said he accepts that there may be certain benefits, including economic benefits, that Weldco Farms LLC might bring to Phillips County, but there are any number of negatives as well.
“It is the residents in and around Holyoke, who make up over 50% of the population of the county, who will bear the brunt of the negative consequences while the producers and taxpayers of the county will not even be receiving the maximum economic benefits from this deal,” said Stern. He also noted his concern that the permit conditions do not provide an adequate level of safeguards necessary to protect the county.