AUSTIN EDITION Housing project gets OK

But neighbors concerned about development near feedlots

By Amy Olson

Mower County officials say the location of two feedlots will not prohibit a Mantorville developer from creating a new housing subdivision south of Brownsdale.

The Mower County Planning Commission voted earlier this week to recommend the county board approve a conditional-use permit sought by Dan Hodgman for the subdivision.


Hodgman plans to turn 158 acres north and west of Red Rock Estates in Red Rock Township into residential lots ranging in size from 1.5 to 3.2 acres.

The proposal being recommended to the county board calls for 62 lots to be mapped out, but under a zoning ordinance as many as 24 of the lots will not be usable unless the rule is changed. County Planner Daryl Franklin said the county's feedlot ordinance requires new homes be built a minimum of 1,000 feet away from permitted feedlots, and the proposed subdivision is bordered on the west and north by two feedlots. Anyone purchasing the lots would have to get a variance to build a new home on the affected property.

Hodgman said he does not even plan to market the lots unless there is a legal change.

Planning commission members said they thought the plan was good.

"It's pretty much ready to go once it's passed," said member Vance Larson, who was part of the investigating committee that visited the site.

Neighbors, however, questioned the decision.

"Why plat it if you're not going to live there?" asked Steven Bartelt, who raises horses on land to the north. He said he's concerned that potential neighbors might complain about odors.

Tom Finnegan said he's concerned he could lose his livelihood. Finnegan holds a license from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that allows him to handle manure from the largest feedlot in the county. In what he called an effort to be a good neighbor, Finnegan said he even avoids driving his manure spreader over the road if he can.


"You're not doing us any favors," Finnegan said. "They're going to move out to the country but think they have an in-town address."

Mower County Attorney Patrick Oman said anyone purchasing the bordering lots to build a home would need a variance from the county ordinance. Those owners would assume any risk of problems from living next-door to a feedlot.

"If they've granted that variance, they have to live with it," Oman said, adding it's highly unlikely the county's Board of Adjustment would grant such a request.

The county board is expected to consider the permit Tuesday.

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