Construction of dairy near Edgeley waits on permitsA proposed 10,000-cow dairy farm near Edgeley, N.D., is still in the works, although the start of construction has been delayed until 2011 at the earliest, according to Ralph Friebel, president of Frontier Dairy. The operation may also come under a new zoning ordinance passed by Wano Township in May.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A proposed 10,000-cow dairy farm near Edgeley, N.D., is still in the works, although the start of construction has been delayed until 2011 at the earliest, according to Ralph Friebel, president of Frontier Dairy. The operation may also come under a new zoning ordinance passed by Wano Township in May.
“The plans are progressing,” Friebel said. “Sometimes things move along smoother than others. We don’t have a revised time for construction but we are proceeding with plans for the same location.”
At a March meeting, Friebel said aquifer testing and a water permit from the North Dakota Water Department along with a permit from the North Dakota Health Department for its manure-handling plan were necessary before construction could start. At that time, plans included acquiring the required permits and starting construction late this summer.
“There’s really no chance of construction this fall,” he said. “It’s more likely to get under way next year.”
The permits needed for construction have not been issued.
The water department has conducted some preliminary tests and is waiting to coordinate further testing with contractors. Friebel said this will occur in the next weeks as schedules allow.
Karl Rockeman, environmental engineer for the North Dakota Department of Health, said no application has been made to his department.
“We’ve had no new information since the March meeting,” he said. “They haven’t made the application for any sort of animal-feeding operation.”
Along with the permits, Frontier Dairy may now be subject to zoning regulations from Wano Township, although township officials say it should not be an obstacle.
“There are spaces in Wano Township for animal-feeding operations,” said Sandra Rupp, township supervisor. “Where they are locating the dairy the zoning ordinance shouldn’t be a problem.”
The Wano Township Zoning Ordinance departs from the state zoning laws — which apply in any area that does not have a local zoning ordinance — in requiring a 2-mile setback of any large-scale animal-feeding operation from any occupied home, park, church or cemetery. North Dakota law sets this setback at 1 mile.
“They have a lot of obstacles to overcome but the zoning isn’t one of them,” Rupp said.
Friebel also doesn’t see the zoning as a problem, but for a different reason.
“The 2-mile setback is the only issue we have with the zoning ordinance,” he said. “And North Dakota law prohibits a local government from expanding a state-set distance by more than 50 percent.”
The center of Wano Township is 5 miles northeast of Edgeley. Townships are almost always 6 miles by 6 miles in size.
Whether the zoning issue becomes a point of contention is yet to be seen. However, there are concerns among the township residents.
“It’s my job to be the voice of the majority of the taxpayers of the township,” Rupp said. “But at this point they are not in favor of the project.”
Rupp cites a concern for township roads and a lack of communication for part of the concern.
“Since the meeting in March there has been no reaching out to the people in the area,” she said. “I feel it’s important for the township to be at the table.”
And while the residents don’t back the dairy plan, Rupp said it’s unlikely the issue would go to court.
“I don’t foresee us bringing any action because we have no money,” she said. “And I don’t anticipate them bringing any action because what kind of message would that send? For them to get this baby born, they need the community support.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org