Ramsey County forwards hog farm zoning questions to state's attorney


By Dan Niepow, Agweek (ND)

Feb 6, 2019


DEVILS LAKE—The Ramsey County Commission on Tuesday forwarded an inquiry about zoning for a proposed hog farm operation to State's Attorney Kari Agotness.


The move came after the North Dakota Department of Health last month asked Ramsey County to check whether the proposed 2,499-swine facility near Devils Lake meets the county's zoning regulations.


In a Jan. 17 letter, the department asked Ramsey County to determine whether Grand Prairie Agriculture LLP's planned hog farm in Pelican Township would comply with the county's setback distances. A "setback" refers to the distance between a feeding operation and the nearest occupied residence or land zoned for other purposes, according to North Dakota state law.


"This determination is important for the department's review of Grand Prairie's proposed permit," wrote Karl Rockeman, director of the department's division of water quality, in the letter.


Adam Leiphon, the commission's vice chair, said Pelican Township would likely have the final authority on zoning for the project.


"The county really doesn't have any jurisdiction in this area. ... Essentially, we gave the state's attorney power to draft a letter back stating we don't have any jurisdiction," he said. "In our eyes, with what we've been able to discern, it's a township issue."


Ramsey County Auditor Kandy Christopherson said this is the first time county officials have ever seen the hog farm application. She referred all questions about the health department's inquiry to the state's attorney.


When reached Wednesday afternoon, Agotness said she's still in the "analysis stage" and has not yet reached an opinion.


The county has until Feb. 15 to provide a written response to the department's inquiry.


The state health department in January...