Northern counties balk at adding Polk to N. Raccoon watershed

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

A controversy brewing over the North Raccoon River Watershed Management Coalition (NRRWMC) was put before the Greene County board of supervisors at their regular meeting on April 20. This involves the development of a watershed management plan by the coalition. Greene County is a member of this coalition.

The Palo Alto and Pocahontas county boards of supervisors sent an email to Greene County supervisors asking them not to support any watershed management plan that includes the Raccoon River and adjoining lands in Polk and Dallas counties.
Pocahontas and Palo Alto counties believe Polk and Dallas county lands are not within the watershed of the North Raccoon River.

A resolution written by the Pocahontas board of supervisors states “this highly developed, improperly added land would represent 56 percent of the population of the coalition, but includes very little of the agricultural land that dominates the true watershed…”

Moreover, the resolution states “the Iowa DNR intends, by the attachment of an erroneous map provided by the DNR, for the North Raccoon River Watershed Management Coalition to include the Raccoon River and adjoining lands in Polk and Dallas county…”

The controversy centers around perception the Iowa Department of Natural Resources deliberately submitted an erroneous map in order to justify inclusion of urban areas in Polk and Dallas counties into the NRRWMC.

The matter is complicated by the differing needs of rural and urban areas in terms of watershed and by the effects of the rural drainage districts on the watershed.

The resolution written by the Pocahontas County board of supervisors calls for “the legal and rightful division of the current membership and land area of the North Raccoon River Watershed Management Coalition into a Raccoon River Watershed Management Area and a North Raccoon River Watershed Management Area.”

No action was taken by the Greene County board of supervisors. Chair John Muir said, “We’ll monitor this.”

Chuck Wenthold, county environmental health, reported the master matrix scoring had come in at 460 points for Stumpf Finishers. LLC. This is above the minimum of 440 points required for approval of the building of the new, two-building finisher site for 4,996 swine in Section 32, Highland Township. The plan includes closure, emergency action, and worker safety protection, but no landscaping.

Wenthold said there had been no calls for or against the application.

Attending by videoconference over Zoom, Todd Stumpf and Twin Lakes Environmental Services representative Becky Sexton fielded questions from the board, media, and Chris Henning, an interested party.

In response to Muir’s question about communicating with neighbors, Stumpf said he had sent letters to the neighbors but “had no calls back.” He said he had not met person to person with neighbors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph asked about hiring locally and Stumpf said he would be doing that.

Chris Henning asked to see the matrix and maps. She was referred to the county website under planning and zoning documents. Wenthold noted there are “district tiles to the north of the site.”

Henning also asked about DNR inspections and plans if the current slowdowns in pork processing plants continue. There has been coronavirus spread among employees of plants in Iowa requiring deep cleaning of facilities and shutdowns.

Stumpf said he has a contract now but would not build if the contract wasn’t in place at the time of construction.

A public hearing for the Stumpf construction permit application was set for the next supervisors meeting April 27 at 9 am.

Wenthold additionally reported on a construction application by Austin and Jolee Saddoris in Section 2, South Junction township. The application is for a new two-building finisher site for 4,996 animals, with closure, emergency action, and worker safety plans but no landscaping. Master matrix score was 465 points.

Austin Saddoris attended the meeting electronically and said he had visited with neighbors. “They understand I’ll be operating the site.” He said he had heard no concerns from neighbors.

Sexton spoke of biosecurity plans for the site.

A public hearing for the Saddoris construction permit application was set for the next supervisors meeting April 27 at 9:20 am.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt the Carroll, Crawford, Greene, and Sac Counties Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2020.
This plan was prepared in compliance with the requirements of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division. Municipalities that helped draw up the plan must pass their own resolutions adopting it and approving it.

The plan is located at the auditor’s office. It offers procedures and guidelines for county governments dealing with emergencies among the counties.

Supervisor Pete Bardole reported three sculptures for Art on the Plaza will be moved to the plaza on May 9.

Bardole also presented a request from Jefferson mayor Matt Gordon to use the county’s 12 banner poles located around the square on the courthouse side to honor this year’s graduating high school seniors. The city also plans to use its poles to do this.

The board did not consider the request.

The courthouse continues to be closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As in past weeks, the audio of the meeting was electronically available to the public and media through zoom.us.

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