Supervisors reject request for fertilizer storage facility

Land Use Hearing in Vinton on May 31.

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors took up the land use change request it had tabled two weeks before. The request was from Amana Farms Inc. to build a fertilizer storage facility in Section 26 of Canton Township.

After hearing input from the neighboring property owners, the request was rejected.

The original hearing was May 17. Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee said the board was concerned that they hadn’t heard from any adjacent property owners. Greenlee prepared a written notice that was served to the neighboring property owners.

A letter from the neighboring property owners was sent to the county. Greenlee read the letter from John Welch, co-owner of the neighboring property. Welch wrote that he fully objected to the land use change application, stating concerns about truck traffic, and the smell and noise generated from loading and unloading the tanks. The impact on mental health and well being would be very negative, Welch wrote.

Welch added he had not received any official notice before the certified mail notice.

Greenlee stressed they have not had problems with people getting notices in the past through the mail, noting that certified mail is expensive.

The Welch family discussed concerns about research on the impact of the storage tanks, plus the impact on the roads by the proposed facility.

Supervisor Gary Bierschenk explained the goal of Amana Farms was to find a place with a low corn suitability rating (CSR). There are very few places that are conducive to their operation, Bierschenk said.

The board discussed moving the location of the tanks on the property. Greenlee said that if they did, Amana Farms would have to reapply for a land use change. The filing fee is $500.

Greenlee added the main reasons Amana Farms chose this location was because it was next to a hard-surfaced road and it had a lower CSR. If it was moved to another location on the property, it would be done on good soil with a high CSR.

Supervisor Richard Primmer suggested this request be rejected, and Amana Farms work something out with the Welch family on purchase of land from the Welch family. The board could waive the application fee for the location. He said that would be a good compromise.

Primmer made the motion to not approve the land use application. However, if the parties involved come to a buy/sell agreement, and Amana Farms comes back to the board with a new location, that any application fees would be waived.

“Does it make sense,” Primmer asked.

Bierschenk seconded this, and it passed unanimously.

“That gives you an opportunity to try to work things out,” Primmer said to the Welch family. He said they have a motivated buyer.

Amana Farms was not at the meeting.

Other business

The board met with Emergency Management officials about purchasing a truck using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The board approved the purchase.

Mona Onken, human resources, updated the board on a new hire for the rural access hub. She recommended Michelle Brown to begin July 1, with a salary of $52,000.

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