Planning Commission OKs permits

NEW ULM — After nearly an hour of discussion, much of it from rural residents against a conditional use permit (CUP), the Brown County Planning Commission unanimously approved an application filed by DeLoy Berkner on property owned by Ed Berkner in Section 13, Leavenworth Township, July 17.

The application, to be considered by Brown County Commissioners July 24, allows expansion from the previously permitted 700 animal units (AU) to 1,690 AU in a beef cattle operation all in the A-1 Agricultural Protection Zoning District.

Craig Berkner said a barn on the property was put up in 2016 for storage and production.

“At first, we had no plan to expand, then the market changed. Now we intend to keep the cattle longer,” Berkner said. “We want to get back into compliance. The basin is ready for big rain events. We will use the new barn for small cattle and use feed from silos and grain bins.”

DeLoy Berkner said a building permit was secured before the building was built.

Brown County Planning and Zoning Administrator Laine Sletta said when the Berkners came into his office, they were told they could put up a storage building and didn’t need an animal permit until they decided to expand their cattle herd.

DeLoy Berkner said the cattle barn is totally confined.

“We don’t push manure into the basin. A filtration system will catch all solids,” Berkner said.

Craig Berkner said everything in the manure management plan is proper.

Tim Kotten said he’s concerned about manure runoff on property including the Cottonwood River from an intake.

“Some neighbors say their water smells like (urine). It’s easy to contaminate soil,” Kotten said.

Sletta said his office got a call a few years ago about alleged manure running into a field intake.

“We found no evidence of cattle manure, like cornstalks in the water,” Sletta said. “I walked out there. We saw no evidence of runoff reaching a tile intake.”

Ed Berkner said the family is working on state permits.

Stark Township Supervisor Dean Sellner asked for dust control measures, which commissioners added to the permit application.

Commissioner Brian Braun said with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) involved, there are many guidelines to follow.

“Hog farms smell. I’m a hog farmer,” Braun said.

Commissioners approved the application on a motion by Dennis Potter, seconded by Braun.

Commissioners also approved applications by:

• Dean Schneider, Section 33, Sigel Township, to renew and amend an existing CUP to allow expansion from 936 AU to 1,560 AU of finishing swine (5,200 head), all in the A-1 Agricultural Zoning District.

Conditions include liquid manure field application not exceeding two times a year. A perimeter tile line access port must be maintained within 20 feet down gradient of the barn to allow drawing tile line water samples.

• Final plat applications filed by Jed Lutgen, Section 16, Home Township, 12.58 acres; the split is a multi-lot subdivision in the A-1 Agricultural Protection Zone; and by Brian Domeier, a 10-acre lot, Section 14, Sigel Township; the subdivision is an existing platted lot being split into two lots.

• A preliminary plat application filed by Casandra Anderson, 4.85 acres, Section 28, Burnstown Township. The parcel being platted is an existing building site being split off from the tilled ground.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.