Fertilizer storage request is tabled again by Benton County Board

Supervisors also hear of studies on dangerous animal ordinances

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – Action again was tabled, 2-1, by the Benton County Board of Supervisors for the land use change request that would put a fertilizer storage facility in rural Benton County.

The meeting was Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the service center conference room.

Action was first tabled on July 12, so the board could visit storage facilities owned by Amana Farms, and located in Iowa County. The board met again on the matter on July 26, and had questions about how state law affects the county’s authority on this.

The land use change request is for land in Section 31, Eldorado Township, just south of Highway 30.

Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee addressed the state law, relaying what he heard from Benton County Attorney David Thompson. Thompson was not at the meeting.

Greenlee said the Amana Farms project is subject to Benton County’s land use ordinance. The material that Amana Farms wants to bring into Benton County is a byproduct of a manufacturing plant. It’s not an agricultural byproduct, Greenlee explained. It’s not primarily adapted for agricultural services.

No one from Amana Farms was at the meeting.

Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman said he talked with John McGrath of Amana Farms. Amana Farms was willing to bring their product into Benton County after the beans are harvested, apply it to the field, Then people will sense how much odor there is. Seeman explained. If the odor isn’t so overpowering, everyone in the neighborhood could get along with it.

Seeman also said the main problem is that Amana Farms meets all of the criteria to put a tank there. Benton County has to have a good reason why they can’t. Smell is not a reason, he added, as long as it is so many feet away from a residence.

Seeman said he is worried about the truck traffic.

A neighbor to the proposed facility, pointed out that determining what is “overpowering” is subjective. She is also concerned about the truck traffic.

Audience members also asked why Amana Farms was not building in Linn County or Iowa County. Supervisor Gary Bierschenk said he was confused about why Amana Farms was not building in Iowa, Linn or Poweshiek County. “It would make sense to me for them to continue to build tanks in Iowa County,” Bierschenk said.

Seeman made a motion to table this, with a second from Bierschenk. Supervisor Richard Primmer was opposed. Primmer asked if there was a timeframe on this, or is the board going to “keep pushing it down the road.” He added the Amana Farms has gone through all of the hoops the board has asked them to, and smell and sight are not part of the ordinance.

Seeman said this is tabled until somebody brings it up again.

Animal ordinance

Preston Moore with the Humane Society of the United States met with the board about its language for Ordinance 39, which deals with dangerous animals. He also talked about the ordinance in Keystone.

Preston Moore talks to the supervisors.

Moore explained upgrades to animal ordinances, which help protect personal property rights so people have the right to get the dog that they feel is best for their family, allows people to keep animals as long as those animals haven’t done anything wrong. He’s worked with several communities on this, since these communities had ordinances that had breed and appearance prohibitions. He’s also worked with law enforcement.

Moore recommended multiple levels of classifications so they can deal with animals that behave in a way that “might” pose a danger or a risk. It also deals with restrictions communities can place on families and dogs, based on behavior, that is a legally sound way to intervene.

He also explained the appeal process. He said he supports breed neutral ordinances.

Moore pointed to an Overland Park, KS, study on the economic impact of breed or dog appearance prohibition, looking at the costs of enforcement of the ban, animal control, kenneling, DNA testing costs, euthanasia costs, disposing of carcasses and litigation costs. They looked at wages and job losses, business growth and economic output effects.

Moore added Iowans have a desire to have less government control in their lives and getting rid of mandates. Community efforts are needed on what it is to be a responsible pet owner, expanding access to care so people can keep their pets, and increasing access to pet food banks through private/public partnerships. He said these efforts help to keep communities safer.

Another study looked at overall reasons on why dogs bite, breed identification, and how dog bites are reported in the media. “Dogs don’t plan to go out and hurt somebody. But dogs do bite.”

Moore also talked about law enforcement. Agencies are already overworked and most don’t receive training on how to identify dog breeds, Moore said.

Moore also recommended expert organization and expert professional support. He gave a listing of shelters and rescue groups.

Moore recommended immediately suspending its ordinance and work with Moore on a new ordinance for the county and communities, so people can have the dog they want without fear of having them seized.

No action was taken. The board wanted time to digest the information.

Other business

The board approved temporary closure of a bridge on 59th Street Trail while the bridge is being replaced.

The board approved a resolution to take part in the SS4A grant application.

Kyle Helland met with the board and approved a variance to the subdivision ordinance for land in Section 11 of Leroy Township, and Section 18, Monroe Township.

Board meeting video

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