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Board of Adjustment OK’s rendering facility

By Staff | Jul 22, 2008

Doug Skinner of Dakota Pack and Iowa Protein Solutions explained his plans for a rendering facility in the former Golden Sun feed mill to the Emmet County Board of Adjustment Monday. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

The Emmet County Board of Adjustment Monday night approved a conditional use permit for a rendering facility in the former Golden Sun feed mill.

Doug Skinner, owner of Dakota Pack and Iowa Protein Solutions, offered an overview of the proposed project to the board and number of citizens attending the public hearing. A number opposed the project, citing odor concerns.

Skinner noted his track record with Dakota Pack, which opened November 2002 with 13 employees and now has 90. Dakota Pack has a $3 million annual payroll and the company itself spends $2 million annually locally. The facility kills 1,400 hogs a day.

Skinner said a rendering plant would be a natural extension of the packing facility. Increased fuel prices make trucking costs prohibitive, and there are also few options for small livestock producers for rendering facilities, he said.

Skinner said the Golden Sun feed mill was chosen because it would cut construction time by nine months. He said the site also has offices in place and the county tax structure is attractive. Other benefits are rail and utility access.

The plant will generate oil or grease for biodiesel production, bone meal, and industrial applications. Initially there would be six employees to start. Skinner said there would be 10-12 deliveries of raw product and two outbound shipments per day. He said there would be an ample staging area to avoid delays on the roadway.

Skinner also addressed any possible concerns regarding noise, safety and the environment. The plant will have an elaborate process to reduce pollutant discharges. He discussed at length efforts that will be taken to deal with odors. He said raw product will be received in an enclosed area which will be vented to room air scrubbers. The process area will be isolated and vented to air scrubbers as well. The building’s140-foot tower will further dissipate odors. There will automated monitoring and mechanized and chemical odor controls.

Skinner noted letters of support from adjacent property owners.

Roger Patocka asked what percentage of raw material would come from Dakota Pack and what percentage would come from deceased livestock to be rendered. Skinner said about two-thirds of the raw material would come from the pack.

Bill Fettes, who lives on Highway 4 near the proposed plant, offered concerns over possible odors, particularly for those who have allergies.

Skinner said the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards and citizens would have the opportunity to take action if they believed the plant exceeded EPA limits.

County Planning and Zoning Director Larry Sundall noted a number of positive aspects of the plant.

“This is state of the art equipment,” Sundall said of Skinner’s plans for monitoring and abating odors. He said the altitude of emissions, 140 feet, was the best way to disperse odor. He also said the plan was compatible with existing land uses.

Patocka offered a letter with a number of concerns.

While Skinner addressed most of Patocka’s concerns and the concerns of others regarding his proposed operation, there remained questions if a new owner should take over the plant and not be as environmentally responsible.

Sundall said county attorney Doug Hansen had indicated that the conditional use permit would go with the property if it were sold. If the conditions of the conditional use permit were not met, then the operation could be shut down and citizens would have the option to sue for damages.

“I stand firmly against this process,” said Fettes, reiterating his allergy problems and concerns of his neighbors.

Patocka asked what would happen if there were future odors.

‘”We can shut them down as a nuisance,” Sundall said, noting that would then open the door for lawsuits.

Board member Lori Chrestiansen moved that the board approve the application, and the board approved.