County hears concerns about feedlot expansion near Peabody

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Four City of Peabody representatives found sympathy but little else from the Marion County Commission at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21.

At the meeting the Peabody group had sought to gain Commission support to stop a cattle feedlot expansion two miles from the city.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub and Commissioner Bob Hein told the Peabody representatives-Jeff Benbrook, Tim Peterson, David Oursler and Lawrence Andres-that they didn’t feel they could take any action because of conflicts in their role later in making final zoning approval for the feedlot if parties ahead of it approve it first.

Holub and Hein also said the situation wasn’t fair because Clarence Busenitz, owner of the Doyle Creek Farm feedlot, didn’t have representation at the meeting.

Commissioner Randy Dallke, who represents the Peabody area, was absent.

Benbrook said citizens have until March 4 to submit objections to the feedlot expansion to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He wanted commissioners to join in objections.

Busenitz reportedly has tentative approval to install a larger lagoon to expand from 500 to 999 head of cattle, but the approval is subject to KDHE public hearing results. Citizens for or against the feedlot can call the KDHE field office at 785-827-9630 for more information, according to the Peabody group.

Benbrook said the feedlot expansion would have “dire effects” on Peabody’s economic development, property values, groundwater supply and dust and odor problems. The city has water table problems already, he said.

Holub recommended that Peabody also check what it can do under the three-mile zone of influence allowed cities under county planning rules.

The commissioners continued the ban on any burning in the county because conditions remain dry. They told Brandon Kraus he could do welding at a pasture site under rules of the burn ban, as long as he had adequate water at the site to put out any accidental fire.

Planning and Zoning Director David Brazil said in conversation with Jim Kaup, Topeka attorney consulting on planning and waste disposal matters for the county, he was told the commissioners have three options in changing zoning more their liking to allow more rural residential housing.

The options, Brazil said, would be repealing the existing county plan, working on zoning changes, or working on an alternative plan.

Holub said he didn’t want to take any actions or resume discussion on planning and zoning without Dallke there.

Michelle Abbot-Becker, emergency planning and communications director, discussed with commissioners whether rising prices for installing an emergency generator at the courthouse might change plans to get one. She said grant funds may be used up in the difference, for instance in going from a $57,000 unit to a $70,000 one.

She and the commissioners agreed that for a period of time, the county might have to settle for one generator instead of one each for the courthouse and the jail.

The commissioners approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $15,606 from Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $16,824 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

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