While he didn't have to attend a meeting held by the Concerned Citizens of Emmet County Tuesday night at the Regional Wellness Center, the appearance of Brad Freking, owner of New Fashion Pork, did a lot to allay the fears and concerns of those present.
The meeting was called by the organization, and when anyone representing the "other side" was asked to step up to the microphone, Freking did.
"We have never been materially involved in a nuisance odor lawsuit for 18 years," said Freking who offered data from odor models showing a zero percent chance of odors from the site reaching the Estherville city limits with a straight north wind.
Freking also cited new technologies - already in place in NFP's site near Armstrong - that would reduce dust by 50 percent.
"We are pretty comfortable with the site," Freking said.
The audience of 105 seemed somewhat relieved when Freking said NFP was pursuing alternative locations.
In South Dakota, municipalities may exercise zoning powers within three miles of their corporate limits subject to county approval. In such a situation, the city and county must mutually agree upon joint (extraterritorial) zoning regulations.
This is a law that has been on the books in South Dakota for nearly 30 years. It was integral in dealing with urban sprawl into ag land where farmers in the northern Black Hills feared prime ag land would be taken away. Likewise, country dwellers in the Hills feared "cracker-box" encroachment into their high-end acreages.
Iowa has a similar law. Section 414.23 of the Iowa Code and Chapter 354 provides that a city may exercise zoning and platting jurisdiction into an unincorporated area up to two miles beyond the limits of such city. Section 414.23 further provides that the city may exercise such jurisdiction only by increasing the size of its Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment each by two members who will be residents of the two mile unincorporated area outside the city limits and shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors of the county.
Interestingly, Freking cited the existence of a feedlot on Estherville's east side and a rendering facility to the south as an open door for a confinement to the north.
For years after the Morrell's closing, Estherville struggled to survive.
Within the last decade, the city has seen a new Regional Wellness Center the envy of most communities, improved housing and a reinvigorated downtown. Just perhaps, in a desire to build up the community, we've taken out eye off the ball in establishing a joint two-mile zoning jurisdiction around Estherville.
People are starting to look at Estherville, though, for residences, businesses and industry in a way they haven't for years. Now is the time for the Estherville City Council to get serious about establishing a two-mile zoning authority as provided for in the Iowa Code.
Granted, it may not supercede the DNR matrix. However, it would give the city an added layer of protection around the city periphery.
Yes, Freking should be commended. He did the right thing.
Now let's hope the City of Estherville can see this is a harbinger of things that could come and start working on a joint two-mile jurisdiction with Emmet County.
And let's hope it happens before it's too late.