By Emily Bialkowski
Spring Grove hog farmer Scott Sanness got the green light to proceed with a plan to almost double his operation of 790 animal units to 1,500. The Houston County Board deliberated on the topic Sept. 4.
Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan said the zoning committee agreed to the proposal with three stipulations:
1. All federal, state and local permits must be adhered to;
2. The manure pit must have an impermeable cover on it;
3. All manure must be knifed into the ground.
“The plan commission had some good discussion on it,” Scanlan said, adding that several neighbors attended and commented at the meeting.
The request carries baggage from an event 11 years ago when Sanness was convicted of a felony for directing a contractor to excavate one side of a runoff pond that contained manure and rainwater.
The resulting environmental impact included the death of approximately 1,600 fish in Duck Creek and Iowa’s Waterloo Creek.
Sanness was fined $5,000 and sentenced to a year of probation and six months house arrest.
“What concerns me about this guy is he had a previous conviction for a spill,” Commissioner Jack Miller admitted.
Scanlan said Sanness has undergone federal and state permitting processes.
“The project already has a lot of eyes on it, and I do expect that to continue,” Scanlan said.
“That federal permit dictates how many hogs he can have on the site. Anything above that and he’s going to have to go through federal, state and local permitting process again,” he added.
Miller said his hesitation has more to do with enforcement. “Can we inspect these things to the degree that the public hopes we are doing,” Miller asked.
Scanlan said it is his job to inspect feed lots.
“Certain feed lots in the county do have complaints called in. We do follow-up on all complaints,” he said.
The board added an additional stipulation to the permit that requires a bio filter be installed if a building is ever put on top of the manure storage pit.
A bio filter is a hydrogen sulfide reducer – hydrogen sulfide being the cause of the distinct pig manure odor.
Scanlan finalized discussion by saying Sanness will be spreading in the spring and the fall.
Contact Emily Bialkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.