Feedlot issue was different at this meeting

This article submitted by Steve Swenson, EV-W Journal-Patriot on 4/7/98.

Just over 30 Eden Lake Township residents were on hand Tuesday evening for the township boardís regular monthly meeting.

This time, however, it was back to business as usual.

Gone from this session were the fireworks that had surrounded recent discussions of the proposed hog operation that Ken Gruenes hopes to set up in the township.

In fact, Tuesdayís meeting was pervaded more with sentiments of cooperation and neighborliness than by the polarization that was evident in meetings past.

Walter Henning, a homeowner on Rice Lake who recently launched an unsuccessful write-in campaign for a township board seat, stated at the meeting his dislike for the phrase ďfarmers versus lakersĒ that has been used to describe those on either side of the hog feedlot issue. He said he prefers the term ďcitizenĒ be attached to everyone involved.

Joe Crozon, a member of the task force set up to help come up with a workable feedlot building ordinance for the township, spoke briefly about where that task force was at. He stated that since Stearns County is also currently working on such an ordinance, the task force has taken a wait-and-see stance to see what the county comes up with. He said if the countyís ordinance would be more restrictive than the townshipís, the townshipís ordinance would be irrelevant. The task force has quit meeting for the time being until Stearns County publishes its ordinance, Crozon said.

There being no further comment from the audience, the board went on with its regular monthly business.

Before the meeting was adjourned, however, the township attorney, Tom Wenner, made some remarks to those in attendance.
He voiced his concern that the townshipís open meeting, which was conducted after the canvassing of the votes a couple of weeks ago, has not been closed pending some of the concerns over the feedlot issue.

While he indicated it is not uncommon to leave a township meeting open, he recommended that the townshipĒschedule an adjournment of the meeting by the end of the summer at least.í

ď(The annual meeting) certainly has to be done this year,Ē Wenner said. He added that ďwe have held some open until September, but it leads to problems because everyone is wondering what is going on.Ē

Wenner also commented that Stearns County is notoriously slow when it comes to drafting ordinances.

ďThe septic ordinance festered for two years, when they got pressure they got it done in two months,Ē Wenner said.

He urged the township board and its resident to put pressure on Stearns County ďto get their word done.Ē He recommended calling Stearns County Planning Commission members as well as county commissioners to let them know there are people out here waiting for their feedlot ordinance.

In the meantime, the township could start working on its own ordinance, Wenner said.

ďYou donít want to try to reinvent the wheel - there are test cases out there,Ē Wenner said. He added that the county has a whole file full of feedlot ordinances to look at and people to call that they will share with anyone who asks.

A footnote: Although he was present, the voice of Ken Gruenes was not heard at Tuesdayís township meeting.

Ken has been waiting for word from the Pollution Control Agency and the state Attorney Generalís office for a decision about the validity of a certificate of compliance that has been earlier granted to him.

Gruenes has learned that the certificate is valid.

He is now waiting for construction bids and good weather before he begins construction on two hog barns.

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