Members of the Grant County Commission and the Grant County Planning and Zoning Board met in a joint session September 20. Todd Kays, Executive Director of First District, led a discussion about the wording of the new CAFO ordinance that went into effect June 10.
Issues were brought to the commissioners in June immediately following the election. The biggest concern is the vesting process and creating the vesting instrument and policies to be put into practice beginning October 1.
According to the new ordinance, CAFOs with less than 1,000 animal units would follow several steps to become vested. The operator first completes a vesting application, and signs an affidavit attesting to the number of animals and species located on their property on a given date. The operator then prepares and signs the vesting recording instrument, which is also signed by county officials.
From there, the applicant applies for a zoning permit and signs a letter of assurance. Within the zoning permit, operators are required to present a nutrient management plan, a manure management plan, and a management plan for fly and odor control. A haul road agreement is also part of the letter of assurance requirement. In the final step, the zoning permit is issued and the vesting instrument is recorded and filed. All of these requirements need to be completed by June 2018.
Kays presented two major questions to the boards. “Will the requirements for nutrient management plan, manure management and operation plan, fly and odor plan, and haul road agreement deter existing operations under 1,000 animal units from applying for vesting? And does the county want to consider allowing existing operations under 1,000 animal units to be vested without having to conform with all the requirements of a new Class E CAFO?”
“We want to make sure the implementation of this process is what the board intended when the ordinance was written,” Kays said. He noted if the county allows existing operation under 1,000 animal units to be vested without all these requirements, than the ordinance will need to be amended. If not, Kays explained it is possible fewer existing operations would vest in the next two years and over half of existing operations will not conform with county setback requirements. Existing operations with less than 1,000 animal units would not be allowed to expand beyond 1,000 units without a variance or waiver.
David Krueger, an alternate for the Planning and Zoning board, stated that the original intent was to allow existing operations under 1,000 animal units to expand unencumbered by the new setback requirements with only those operations over 1,000 units required to go through the permitting process.
After a lengthy discussion, the commission decided to put the question on the agenda for its next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 4, at 8 a.m. in the Grant County Courthouse.