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Hanson Co. signs off on swine nursery

ALEXANDRIA—Despite concern from community members and nearby landowners, the Hanson County Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a 2,400-animal swine nursery to be located about 4 miles west of Emery.

The swine operation will be built by Triple K Land LLC and was approved during a three-hour public hearing at the Hanson County Courthouse in Alexandria. Wednesday's approval gives Triple K Land the go-ahead to build the project.

Joshua Kayser, a fifth generation farmer and owner of Triple K Land in Ethan, opened the public hearing by laying out detailed plans of the commercial swine nursery, which included waste management plans, environmental concerns and water pollution prevention.

"We will build a 60-by-140-foot barn with a manure pit underneath in accordance with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources," Kayser said. "Any of our decisions made going forward are for the greater good of our operations and land around it, not for the quick, short-term monetary gains."

The barns and facility will be owned by Kayser and his business, but a Canadian company called Sunterra will own the hogs and will employ workers at the future swine nursery. That aspect concerned some of the planning commission board members about liability issues.

"It's on us, if anything goes wrong," Kayser said, noting that as owners of the facility, they would maintain the proper liability insurance.

Following Kayser's introduction of the swine nursery layout, the commision board members took public comment for those in opposition of the proposed operation. Shawn Tornow, a Sioux Falls attorney representing Amy and Lee Huber, said his clients were concerned about a variety of issues.

"I already deal with gases of odors from hog barns near my farm, they've caused my eyes to water, my nose to burn and make breathing difficult," Lee Huber said. "We have people in my family with breathing problems and they definitely can't be out there on the days pollutants are heavy in the air."

The Hubers own property near the proposed site of the swine nursery and noted that there are four hog facilities within a few miles of their home in rural Hanson County. Tornow also disputed with board members of the three-minute time rule for members in attendance to speak.

"Due process requires the time frame not be arbitrary, and before today, I've never heard of three minutes," said Tornow, regarding the planning commission's protocol.

Jesse Barondeau, an Avera pediatrician in Mitchell, was another community member who lives nearby and addressed his concerns with the proposed operation.

"A study from the University of North Carolina Medical School specifically addresses increased wheezing and asthma in children living within three miles of the proposed CAFO area," Barondeau said.

Lee Huber concluded the public comment period for those in opposition, and said he doesn't oppose swine operations, but stacking four of them on top of each other in such a small geographic area is very dangerous.

The planning commission board members concluded the hearing by addressing final concerns to Kayser, including how the swine nursery will use water and utilities. He reiterated that the project would be built using local businesses.

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