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Planning Commission approves campground changes

Fri, Jan 25th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Working well past 10:00 p.m. on Thursday night, January 24, the Fillmore County Planning Commission, cut and pasted last minute changes to the Zoning Ordinance regarding Campgrounds to send off to the County Board for ratification at their February 5 meeting. The 12 month moratorium on campgrounds, which was passed on February 6, 2007, is scheduled to expire on that day.

Major amendments to the existing ordinance include:

• All Recreational Vehicle campsites in a new or expanded campground cannot be placed in the floodplain. Existing campgrounds, some of whom have campsites in the floodplain, will be grand-fathered in. Tent campsites will continue to be allowed in the floodplain.

• All campgrounds located in Fillmore County must be closed during the months of December, January, and February.

• An Environmental Assessment Worksheet will be required for all new campgrounds or expansion of campgrounds equalling a total of 50 or more campsites. The county board can opt to require an EAW for any new campgrounds or expansions, regardless of size.

• All new or expanding campgrounds must meet a setback of 1000 feet from any existing dwellings unless part of an incorporated city.

• All Recreational Camping Vehicles must be road ready and legal to be moved without special permit at all times.

This last provision would seem to eliminate most Park Model Recreational Camping Vehicles, which are built on metal frames, mounted on wheels and trucked into campgrounds with special moving permits.

Several people testified during the public hearing.

Pilot Mound Supervisor Vern Crowson submitted a letter in support of 1000 foot setbacks. He also advocated for limiting campgrounds to state and county roads, stating that township roads are ill equipped to handle large RV traffic.

Mark White, Park Manager at Forestville State Park, said that the proposed changes do not address protecting the scenic beauty of the area or natural resources.

"A campground is a city and you could have one every 1000 feet," White said. "You could limit the number of campgrounds per section of land like you [county] do with other regulations."

White also spoke strongly for keeping tent campsites outside the floodplain.

A motion by Commission member Brad Erickson of Rushford to not allow campsites in the floodplain died for a lack of a second.

For the most part, the commission chose not to deal with the issue of density of campgrounds.

"The focus here is on campground operations and procedures," Commission member Duane Bakke said. "Location wasn't addressed."

Bakke said that discussion about whether to create a Wild Scenic River District is something worth talking about in the future.

"We might want to address this in a different mode," Bakke said.

Rita LeDuc of Pilot Mound argued that campgrounds needed to be sited carefully to protect the health, safety and welfare of the county. She advocated for placing campgrounds within a mile from cities, where supporting infrastructure already exists.

County Board member Randy Dahl, speaking during the public hearing, thought the 1000 foot setback would limit campgrounds, especially between Whalan and Rushford.

The amendments to the zoning ordinance for campgrounds was passed unanimously.

Horihan Feedlot

Despite concerns by neighbors about odor, the Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for Fred and Trudy Horihan to build a hog finishing feedlot in Preble Township. The new facility would bring total animal units on the farm to 2417.

Fillmore County Feedlot Officer Mike Frauenkron said that the Manure Management Plan requires that 744 acres be available for land application, with the Horihans having 1254 acres available in signed agreements.

Frauenkron also said that the new facility would be outfitted with biofilters to control odor. The offset model, with filters, allows for the building to be setback 186 feet from the nearest dwelling. He said that the Amdahl House nearby is 480 feet away from the site.

Some neighbors of the Horihans spoke against the plan.

Jennifer Schlafter, who lives across from the Horihan farm, complained about odor and didn't think the Horihan's should expand given past practices.

"They haven't followed rules in the past," Schlafter said, using the example of the Horihan's broadcasting on frozen ground. "This goes beyond nuisance smells."

Preble Township Supervisor Charles Olson, who lives south of the Horihans said, "When there is a northwest wind the smell is terrible. You can't put clothes out on the line to dry."

He recommended that a "good neighbor policy" require the Horihan's to notify the neighbors when they spread manure "so we can close the windows."

Another neighbor, Carol Thompson, said she has lived in the area 27 years and can attest to the odors.

"It's a problem," she concluded.

Commission member Jim Keune commented that he thought the new facility would help alleviate some of the odor problems, given its odor control technology.

The Commission placed three conditions on the conditional use permit:

• All manure, including that from existing facilities, must be incorporated in one pass;

• Biofilters must be installed on the new swine facility;

• The Manure Management Plan will be updated annually.

Other Business

• A conditional use permit was approved for Allan and Norma Grunwald to install a 100 foot wind turbine on their land in Preble Township. The wind tower will generate electricity for battery storage to be used for a cabin.

• Steve Duxbury was elected Chair of the Planning Commission for 2008. Brad Erickson was elected Vice-chair.

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