Minnesota Town To Fight Brookings Co. Cow Feedlot For The Second Time

HENDRICKS, MN. – A small town on the border of Minnesota is preparing for a big fight.

For the second time, they’re going up against a proposed 4,000-cow feedlot in Brookings County.

Two years ago the South Dakota Supreme Court denied a permit to build the confined animal feeding operation in Oaklake Township.

“The judge decided we did not do it in the proper way, we missed some of the public notification so he said the ordinance we were using that was based in 2007 was invalid,” says the Brookings County Development Department Director Robert Hill.

So in 2016, the California based company Killeskillen tried again.

This time Brookings County officials updated the zoning, and the company adjusted some of the feedlot plans.

“They changed up the ponds a little bit, they made them steeper so they could hold more storage,” says Hill. “They also included a secondary containment berm in-case the ponds leak.”

On December 5, with the changes, the Zoning Board approved the permit.

But not everyone took this as good news.

Brenda Boeve, the president of Lake Hendricks Improvement Association says when the board came down with the decision she felt “completely defeated.”

The nonprofit organization fears the feedlot will drain phosphorus into Lake Hendricks.

For the past three years the group says they’ve worked hard to keep algae bloom out of the lake.

“Four or five years ago, people couldn’t swim in Lake Hendricks, but this summer people could swim,” says the vice president of Hendricks Improvement Association Jonathon Lengaeea. “We know that phosphorus is the biggest contributor to algae bloom.”

“We’re not against progressive farming by any means, it’s just the location of this confinement,” adds Boeve.

Hill says the lagoon would go on top of a hill, so if something is breached, it will head down to an orphan damn facility called Gillies Cove, which drains into a water way that leads to Lake Hendricks.

“They have some concerns, the people that live on Lake Hendricks,” agrees Hill. “But if there is something that happens, the facility is approximately 5 miles from Gillies Cove, so we feel it would be stopped by the time it got down to the Lake Hendricks inlet.”

But the nonprofit says the town relies heavily on the lake as a tourist attraction, so they don’t want to take that chance.

“When the folks come in for the summer, our population can swell from 700  to 1,400,” says Boeve.

The state of South Dakota still has to approve the cow feedlot permit before it can be built.

But the Lake Hendricks Improvement Association says they’ve already started the process of appealing the Zoning Board’s approval.

During the first go-around, the non-profit had to raise $90,000 in legal fees, which they say came from community donations.

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