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Supervisors eye 500th Avenue upgrade

Board questions payback on road to confinement

February 19, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

While the Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday didn't have any problem giving the green light on a matrix application for an animal confinement in Swan Lake Township, several board members balked at having the county pay $91,000 for a road leading to the confinement.

The animal confinement permit for PRKG 368 would be for two, 2,200-head swine finishing units, or 1,760 total animal units. Anything over 1,000 animal units must go through the matrix process which includes review by the board of supervisors before being passed on to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The site would be three miles south of Maple Hill on 500th Avenue, currently a Level B road.

On hand to explain the permit application were Kent Krause, president of Pinnacle, the company that prepared the permit application, and Mike Daggett, site owner. Murphy-Brown Farms will manage the site.

County engineer Roger Patocka said the cost of building the road up to Class A standards for the site would be $91,000. "It's essentially flat," Patocka said.

Krause said the permit application documented 440 points - the minimum required out of 880 total possible - because distances were well within the required minimums. "They're well above that minimum threshold by category," Krause said, noting that going for more points on the matrix would have presented unnecessary additional costs.

As an example, Krause said there was added distance on the setback from the road (300 feet total) and from the well to the confinement buildings (200 feet). A windbreak was also added, he said.

"You kind of get to a point and then you want to stop spending money," Krause said.

Daggett said the property would be in his name as sole proprietor and Murphy-Brown would manage the site - probably hiring a local manager.

"We're there to support the grower all the way through the construction process," Krause said.

Daggett pegged a $1.2-million cost for the operation, including two, 400-foot confinement buildings and slurry store.

When supervisor Ron Smith asked Daggett if the road would need any work, Daggett said, "I would probably say it's going to need to be upgraded to qualify as a site."

Daggett said he could pick up $5,000 of the $91,000 it would cost to upgrade the road.

Board chair Alan Madden observed that a Level A road designation referred to maintenance rather than condition.

"It's not that long ago that it was a dirt road," Madden said, and as to the cost of upgrading the road, he added, "It's not going to be cheap. That building (the confinements) will be gone before the taxes that you pay on that building will pay for the road."

"If it's a residence they would pay for the road at no cost," said Daggett.

"It's different for me to see why we should ask taxpayers to pay for a road to a confinement that's a local operation," said supervisor Jon Martyr.

Patocka said there hadn't been any homes built where there wasn't already a good road system, adding that the road to Iowa Lake is a private road and privately maintained.

Smith then asked if a large grain facility were built if the county would be required to build a road to it.

"I don't think the county would be required to build a Level A road up to it," Patocka said. He added that if someone needs to get to a farm site on a Level B road, the county will plow the road. "You do treat it like a Level A," he said.

When Smith asked if the county could get by for less than $91,000 to upgrade the road, Patocka said if the county spent less, it would be spending more to maintain the road over the years.

Krause said there would be room to move the proposed site 600 feet to the south and still fit within matrix requirements.

"I can't afford $90,000 on top of the project," Daggett said. "The best case scenario from my standpoint is that the county takes it over, that the county upgrades it to a Level A road."

"Do we write a check for it?" Madden asked the board.

The board approved the matrix, but the supervisors indicated they wanted to wait until next week to see what costs would be if the site could be built closer to A33.

"We need to determine too what our stance is going to be on all these issues and treat them consistently," Martyr said.

"This is kind of a red flag issue because the road is so poor," said Madden, adding that the road issue could be placed on next week's board agenda.

The board also agreed to allocate $9,000 to the Estherville Public Library for the current year to help with the library computer upgrade. Madden noted that a significant number of county residents use the library.

In the road report, Patocka said crews had been blading out ruts, painting, repairing equipment and fixing signs.



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