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Sawmills back on the agenda


Sun, Sep 3rd, 2000
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Monday, August 28, 2000

The Fillmore County Planning Commission met last Tuesday, evening and spent the greater part of the meeting discussing a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance regarding sawmills.

The zoning ordinance was changed earlier this year to require conditional use permits (CUPs) for new and expanding sawmills. The proposed amendment would require that all sawmills now operating be permitted.

Commission member Duane Bakke disagreed with the stipulation that the sawmills be required to renew their CUPs every five years. Bakke thought that a sawmill permit should be similar to a feedlot permit, which is a one-time permit except in the case of expansion or change of ownership.

"I’m concerned that if a sawmill is financed through a bank, then the financing would be contingent on the five year renewal of the permit," Bakke said.

Among those in attendance were a dozen or so Amish sawmill operators, and one of them addressed the planners, saying that his banker had already pointed out that a five year renewal requirement could pose financing problems. The planning commission seemed in accord that the five-year renewal should be stricken from the amendment.

The commission went on to discuss various other matters relating to sawmill activity including, parking areas, setbacks and timetables for removal of slab bundles, sawdust and boards. They agreed that one of the biggest problems concerning sawmills was that trucks were using the township roads to load logs and slabs. Various ways of prohibiting this practice were discussed, including having a setback of 20 feet from the right of way for the piling and stacking of logs, slabs and sawdust.

The planning commission eventually decided it would be best if county attorney Matt Opat and zoning officer Norm Craig rewrote the proposed amendment, adding this stipulation and some of the other changes that they had discussed. The amendment will be considered at public hearing once again, during the next planning commission meeting, scheduled for September 21.

New county feedlot officer Mike Frauenkron, who previously served as Houston County’s feedlot officer, was introduced to the planning commission,. Frauenkron said that a feedlot advisory committee had been set up in Houston County and he felt the group had served a useful purpose. The committee, he said, was made up of five members, of which four of them were farmers and one a non-farmer. The committee reviewed feedlots that had "controversial problems" and helped come up with "solutions from a peer standpoint."

Frauenkron also talked about a registration program for all Fillmore County feedlots. In Houston County, using a similar program as the one he proposed, he had registered over 500 feedlots. Some of the points of Frauenkron’s registration program will be:
•As an incentive to farmers, a free signup period will be from September 1 through December 31, 2000.

•Anybody with 10 animal units (AU)or more must register (regardless if they need a permit or not)

•If they do not sign up before the deadline they will be assessed the fee, which will be a $50 base fee up to 50 A.U.’s and then an additional $1.00 per A.U. above 50 A.U.’s.

Frauenkron said that he would be presenting his feedlot program to the county board at their next meeting. The planning commission voted on a resolution that showed their support of Frauenkron’s proposals.

In other business, two CUPs were approved and will be sent on to the county board for final consideration:

•Charles and Eric Ruen hog feedlot expansion in Carrolton Township.

•Dave Swenson rock quarry permit in Newburg Township.

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