SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s a new twist in the debate over a possible future hog production plant in northeast Sioux Falls.
Luke Minion, CEO of Pipestone Holdings and Chairman of the board for Wholestone Farms, confirmed to KELOLAND News plans to start construction soon on a “custom slaughterhouse.”
Minion said it’ll be a small-scale facility on the site Wholestone Farms purchased near Interstate 229 and Benson Road for a hog processing plant.
Earlier this week, City Clerk Tom Greco announced a petition aimed at stopping the Wholestone Farms production plant earned enough valid signatures. The group called Smart Growth Sioux Falls said it had more than 10,000 signatures to its petition.
The specific wording of the municipal initiated measure calls to amend zoning ordinances in Sioux Falls to not allow any new slaughterhouse to be constructed or permitted within city limits. The second section of the measure states it does not apply to existing and operating slaughterhouses.
“We’ll have it in operation by October,” Minion told KELOLAND News. “It’s been kind of fun because we’ve already got people who’ve ordered hogs from us.”
The petition will be presented to the city council at its Tuesday meeting on July 19 and then language would be certified for the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Auditors to place the question on the general election ballot in November after the custom butcher shop has opened.
“It’ll allow for the butchering of hogs and done in a way that people who want that service can choose it,” Minion said. “It puts us in a position to reserve our right to use that site, the way that it was approved by all of the authorities.”
KELOLAND News has reached out to Robert Peterson, treasurer of Smart Growth Sioux Falls for comment who shared the following comment:
This desperate maneuver by Wholestone is a flimsy attempt to sidestep the law and push through their project against the will of 10,000 citizens who signed our petition and the vast majority of those in Sioux Falls who don’t want another slaughterhouse within city limits.Robert Peterson, Executive Director at Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls
It’s been clear from the beginning that Wholestone does not care about the concerns citizens have raised about their controversial slaughterhouse including odor, water quality, traffic, and affordable housing. The good news is that under state law, the city council cannot do anything to move their massive slaughterhouse plan forward. Under state law, pending the election, the city council “may take no action with respect to the subject matter of the petition that would alter or preempt the effect of the proposed petition.”
Minion said Wholestone Farms believes it has all the proper permits to start construction soon. He added he believes the petition to ban slaughterhouses in Sioux Falls is bad for the city.
“I think it sets a precedent of a double standard, where it allows Smithfield to expand their business and local farmers not to build,” Minion said. “There is a continued sort of theme that agriculture is not good enough for Sioux Falls.”
Minion said Wholestone Farms, which says it is owned by 200 family farms, doesn’t believe the petition should be voted on in the ballot box. The company has launched a new webpage to describe its original plans for a “state-of-the-art” hog processing facility that would bring 1,000 full-time jobs to Sioux Falls.
“We continue to be very willing to answer questions and visit with people that have concerns and so we encourage folks to reach out,” Minion said. “Clearly, a lot of money is being put into the opposition and they won’t disclose who and I think that’s really out of proportion.”
The ballot question committee will be required to submit campaign finance disclosure statements leading up to the election.
“We have seen an outpouring of support from both citizens and businesses across Sioux Falls and we are 100% locally funded,” Peterson said about the funding for Smart Growth Sioux Falls. “We will file all required financial disclosures at the beginning of September in accordance with the law.”
Minion has previously said the location where Wholestone Farms bought land was decided after years of working with the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the city of Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
The last municipal initiated measure questions in Sioux Falls was in 2014. Those initiated measure questions – snow gates usage and a pool replacement at Spellerberg Park – were placed on the April 2014 city election ballot.