KK Finisher Site amends Master Matrix hog plan
Last week the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors reviewed the Master Matrix for KK Finisher Site construction application, and found it lacking in some areas, not able to verify distances and wanting more detailed plans.
Supervisor chairman Steve Burgmeier said at today’s regular weekly meeting an amended Master Matrix was submitted Dec. 19.
Ryan Robertson is applying to add 1,476 hogs to his 2,200-head operations in Penn Township. The animal unit capacity after building expansion will be for a total of 3,690 head of swine finishers.
Last week, the supervisors held a conference call with Pinnacle in Iowa Falls, a manure management, agronomic and environmental consulting firm hired by KK Finisher owner Robertson. Supervisors discussed the Master Matrix’s shortcomings with Brain Ritland, director of agronomic services at Pinnacle.
Today, John Everly, a manure management plan and soil-sampling specialist from Pinnacle attended the supervisors’ meeting and answered questions about the amended Master Matrix.
The supervisors have set a public hearing at 7 p.m. today in the second-floor courtroom at Jefferson County Courthouse about KK Finisher Site construction permit application for a confinement feeding operation north of Pleasant Plain.
One of the supervisors’ concerns last week was the distance separating the proposed confinement structure and any public use area. The minimum requirement is 2,500 feet; points are awarded in increments of five for additional distance.
Originally, KK Finisher had taken the maximum additional 30 points, which requires 1,251-1,500 feet distance above the minimum 2,500 feet.
“We dropped the 30 points to 20 points on that item,” said Everly. “The difference of that 10 points was picked up in another item.”
The distance measured to Pleasant Plain Friends Church is 2,009 feet above the minimum required, said Everly, which qualifies the item for 20 points in scoring.
A Master Matrix has a possible maximum score of 880. Only 50 percent, or 440 points, are needed by producers to pass the Master Matrix. KK Finisher had met exactly 440 points, so any deductions in any area failed the matrix.
“We took the 10 points on the score of having no wells within 200 feet of the proposed building,” said Everly. “I reviewed field maps and used aerial maps and didn’t see any wells within 200-feet of the fence line.”
Audience member Jim Rubis asked if county wells are marked on maps. Everly said no.
“You don’t know where old wells are?” asked supervisor Dick Reed. “So you are going on an assumption of data. Just about every place that once was a homestead or cow lot had a well. You can’t know where wells are unless you walk the land.”
Burgmeier said aerial maps of the county date back to the 1930s.
“My son looked at our farm, comparing old maps to current and the landscape has changed,” he said. “Before definitely saying there’s no wells in an area, I’d have to look at the old maps to see if a homestead was there in the last 25-30 years. We bulldozed homesteads in the ’70s for farmland.”
Reed reiterated the only way to find wells would be to walk the land.
“You may not find them even by walking the land,” said Burgmeier. “They could be farmed-over. This county has cemeteries that were farmed-over.
“I’d have a better understanding if I had the old maps to compare. If I looked at the old maps and saw no homestead, probably there’s no well there.”
Rubis said it was up to KK Finisher to prove the absence of wells because it is the entity applying for a construction permit.
Last week, measurements between features were awarded points without showing the measurements on the enclosed maps or aerial photos.
Burgmeier said Everly had included more detailed documentation and plans in this amended version of the matrix.
One item is a minimum of 500 feet from the confinement building to any water source.
“How did you measure to the water source?” asked Burgmeier. “Did you measure to the creek where the earth falls away?”
Everly replied, he had. He said a general rule of thumb is if a pickup truck cannot cross the split, the edge of the split is where the measurement ends.
“This measurement is within one-foot of being the minimum as measured by KK Finishers and within five feet according to the Department of Natural Resources,” said Diane Rosenberg, executive director of Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors Inc. “Last week, the supervisors asked [County Engineer] Scott [Cline] to go out and take a hard measurement of it.”
Rubis said last year, when Robertson also had applied to expand KK Finisher at this same site, the flags marking the proposed building were not actually surveyed but only stuck in the ground.
“That is one thing . . . if taking points for a one-foot measurement, we need accurate markings,” said Burgmeier. “Until that measurement is done, I don’t know that I’m willing to approve five points based on one-foot.
“If you don’t know where you are measuring from, how can you measure?”
Rubis said in the past, Robertson was found to be 50-feet out of compliance on a building.
Other items that had a little more detail than last week, but did not satisfy the supervisors, included the landscaping plan for a windbreak and an emergency action plan.
“The more hogs you have in one area, the more details are needed in a plan,” said Burgmeier.
The supervisors will approve or fail the Master Matrix at tonight’s public hearing.