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Hog facility could produce 900K gallons of manure a year

Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:15:13 AM CST   Updated On: Oct 01 2013 07:14:23 AM CDT

Part of the reason Todd Knutson moved to his Vinger Road farm house years ago was the view. Another was the fresh air. If a neighboring farmer's plans go through, both of those selling points might be compromised.

"This is his land, and he has a right to do what he wants, but I don't think he should be able to negatively impact all of us," Knutson said.

According to a letter from Green County, Knutson's neighbor wants to build a 193 foot by 102 foot concrete facility that will house 2,400 hogs and produce 900,000 gallons of manure every year. The floor would be slotted, allowing the manure to drop into 7 foot 8 inch slated floor underneath. In exchange for having the facility on his property, the farmer will be able to spread the manure on his fields, the letter said.

Knutson got the news six weeks ago, but his neighbors were first notified in the letter delivered Friday.

"It's the time factor. It's being pushed forward before we really have the chance to really scrutinize it, I think," Knutson said.

Knutson acquired the nutrient management plan, which includes maps of the proposed facility and additional information about development. According to that plan, there are extra buildings in the works for disposing dead pig carcasses if any happen to die. While Knutson is upwind from where the building would stand, it will be just 600 feet from his property and roads will likely be built by his front yard to support truck traffic to and from the facility.

Aside from that, Knutson is mostly concerned about pollution. He said limestone layers close to the ground's surface will make it easier for contamination to seep into ground water.

The state will not oversee this facility unless a problem comes up or the number of hogs housed in the building increases. The Department of Natural Resources regulates facilities with 2,500 pigs or more.

"They're kind of flying in under the radar to get this built, and then who knows what's going to happen," Knutson said.

Knutson said parts of the plan include future expansion of the facility.

In addition, Knutson said his and other properties could experience a drop in value. He just started an addition on his house and said he wouldn't have begun construction if he knew this facility was in the works. It could even be a factor in Knutson moving out.

"I wouldn't have bought this if I would have known this was coming in," Knutson said.

Calls to the farmer wanting to build the facility on his property, the companies involved in the development, and Green County's conservation department went unanswered Monday night.

The county is holding a meeting on the proposal on Tuesday at noon in the N7000 block of Vinger Road.

"I just wish there were a way to stop it. I don't know that there is, but we'll see what happens," Knutson said.

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