Mike Beneke, owner of Double B Cattle of Lincolnville, was granted a 30-day extension to remove about 8 million pounds of silage from his property at 601 W. Main St., at a hearing Sept. 16.
Unlike the first hearing on Aug. 30 in which Beneke had 10 days to remove the silage, the verdict last week was 30 days, or Oct. 17, and a $30,000 letter of credit.
City administrator Roger Holter said Monday that it’s his understanding that if the silage isn’t removed, the city will do it at Beneke’s expense.
“The city has attempted to administer the laws of the city in a fair and consistent manner,” he said.
“Our goal has remained consistent throughout the process and remains unchanged.”
At the first hearing Aug. 30, Holter said this was a safety concern to include it being a fire hazard because of its proximity to residences.
Holter said: “It’s also in the flood plain, which implicates surface and ground water.”
Another concern was the height of the pile and that it wasn’t covered, leaving it open for flies and other animals to access.
But, being in the city limits, covered or not, it was still in violation of the ordinance.
Municipal Court Judge Randy Pankratz at both the first and second hearings agreed with Robson’s findings that the silage went against the city’s health and nuisance codes, something everyone else must abide by.
In his defense, Beneke said he was simply trying to make a living, which was not disputed.
However, Pankratz said the city keyed in on something in Section A of the ordinance, which included a prohibition on some specific things.
Those were paper, rocks, excrement, dirt, cans, trash, and even though silage was not on the list, the ordinance went on to state, “or any other offensive or disagreeable thing or substance,” Pankratz said in August.
Request for extension
At some point prior to the 10-day deadline to remove the silage, Beneke approached Robson asking for more time to remove the silage.
In turn, Robson contacted Pankratz, with Beneke present, to make a case for the extension hearing.
Prior to the first hearing and before the second hearing Sept. 12, Beneke said his goal was to remove the silage this coming winter to feed his cattle.
Removing the silage prior to that time, he said, would be a hardship.
“It would be an extremely tall order to move it,” Beneke said.
But, Pankratz said, in the fullness of the circumstances, I don’t think this material should have been put where it was put to begin with.
It’s an illegal deposit
Holter added: “On behalf of the citizens, we simply want Mr. Beneke to remove the illegally deposited 8 million pounds of decaying material that creates safety and health concerns for our community.
“Residents did not choose to live in a feed processing area which was created by a single individual desiring to impose his will upon the community for commercial gain.”
Holter explained that Beneke’s actions are more consistent with a rural or farmstead setting and not in an urban environment.
“From the city’s perspective, we will commence the abatement process on Oct. 18 should Mr. Beneke fail to abate,” he said.