Commissioners Approve Permit For Hog Operation Near Harbine

FAIRBURY – A controversial special use permit for a hog operation near Harbine won the approval of Jefferson County Commissioners Tuesday.

The permit allows Plymouth Ag Group to build a hog confinement a little more than two miles southwest of Harbine. About a dozen concerned residents attended the meeting.

The commission first had to address the question of a protest filed Monday by some of the residents of the area against the Planning and Zoning Committee’s approval of the permit last week. After discussion between the commissioners, Zoning Administrator John McKee and County Attorney Jeffrey Goltz it was determined the hearing could proceed.

Area resident Scott Hahn questioned Commissioner Michael Dux on the basis for the board’s decision and the role public input has in the process.

:20 “…regs were made.”

Dux said the regulations were last revisited in 2013.

:13 “…would hope so.”

Other concerns raised by residents included the thoroughness of the review by the Department of Environmental Quality, enforcement of environmental regulations and the potential for contamination of nearby sources of surface water.

Gerald Schmidt of Plymouth Ag Group told those in attendance their operation is more strictly regulated than other types of farms.

:25 “…zero tolerance.”

Shane Meyer added that the ownership and management of Plymouth Ag Group combined have nearly 200 years of experience raising hogs and know how to properly operate such a facility.

Commissioner Mark Schoenrock said the commission intends to revisit zoning regulations in the near future and encouraged concerned residents to attend those meetings.

:34 “…of the county.”

The permit was approved 2-0 with Dux and Schoenrock in favor. Commissioner Gale Pohlmann abstained, citing a previous relationship he’s had with Plymouth Ag. The board added provisions requiring a monitoring well for water, annual soil testing and that the top of the manure holding tanks be at least two feet above a nearby dam to protect against potential flooding.