A Hand County board said ‘no’ Tuesday to what would have been the state’s largest cattle feedlot.
Northern Prime Feeders requested a permit to build a 50,000 head feedlot in Hand County located on property of Eagle Pass Ranch near Ree Heights. Hand County’s zoning board had hearings in January and April before voting to deny the permit Tuesday.
"We believe cattle feeding is right in South Dakota. That was our mantra all along is that we wanted to feed South Dakota cattle in South Dakota with South Dakota corn," A.J. Munger said.
Munger says that would add value to cattle and commodities in the state. He’s one of the project’s organizers. He and family members were at Tuesday's meeting. Dean Lockner and others who have opposed the feed lot were there as well.
"We have many concerns. We have ground water concerns, surface water concerns, fresh air," Lockner said.
Living a few miles from the proposed site, Lockner says he was also concerned about road problems that could have surfaced with increased traffic. Munger says organizers of the project addressed those concerns.
"We went line by line through the ordinances to make sure that we were in compliance with each one and we still don't have a reason why this was voted down today," Munger said.
Board chair J.D. Wangness said board members needed more time.
"My motion was to delay the matter to a later date until we have adequate time to answer the questions that we have," Wangsness said.
A majority of the board members disagreed, deciding instead to deny the permit in a three to two vote. While Munger says he still wonders why, Lockner says he's read the county's zoning ordinance and thinks board members had reason for the decision.
"A conditional use permit is supposed to promote the public health, safety and welfare of our community and we do not believe a 50,000 head feed lot does that," Lockner said.
Lockner ranches himself and says he supports agriculture, just not a feedlot this big. Munger says the lot would have had a significant economic impact and employed at least 40 people.