Merrill ‘s conditional use permit granted

On Tuesday, June 23, Turner County planning and zoning showed a plat map providing the location for the conditional use permit that was petitioned by Allen and Kristie Merrill to operate a self-contained drop point for animals.

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s planning and zoning meeting, Allen and Kristie Merrill petitioned the board to operate a self-contained drop point for animals.

The board made a motion to approve the operation located in Parker Township with conditions placed with the permit.

Landowner Allen Merrill explained Paul Reynolds from RCM (Reynolds Construction Management)    approached him about purchasing some land for the project.

Reynolds said the proposal he is presenting to the board is an 18,750 square foot facility constructed on the gravel site owned by Merrill.

He explained the structure would be a self-sustained with a current well located on-site with rural water being available. Reynolds noted there is also three phase power from Southeastern Electric.

He commented the current project budget has grown for the facility and the equipment needed. Reynolds said the amount the owner wants to invest in the project is $5.2 million, with the building structure and contents about $2.5 million. He explained the surface transportation for the facility and equipment would cost $2.7 million.

Reynolds said the business is in the early stages of development and goes through the following steps. He explained they are looking for approval from the county then move forward at the state level.

He noted they have to submit an application to the Department of Natural Resources for several permits and a permit from the State Veterinary Office.

Reynolds commented they have also been working with the GOED Office for the payback program. He explained the payback program would allow significant dollars issued back to Turner County once the project is complete. He said if the project were successful, it would bring $80,000 back into the county.

Reynolds said they would require eight to 10 full-time employees in phase one and when they reach potential growth to allow 14 full-times positions.

He explained these jobs are skilled labor positions, with a majority of the staff required to have a CDL license.

Reynolds explained the business is a three-fold type business, meaning there are three potential income sources. He explained live animal transfer reporting depending on volume, bi-products from a soybean/ethanol process and recovery of passed animals from agricultural farms, dairy farms and farrowing operations. He said the animals would be sorted and prepared to send to Sioux City.

“I want to make one thing clear at this point. This business is only a shorting and moving of the product from point a to point b,” commented Reynolds.

He noted the operation meets all state veterinary standards, and no product would go outside the facility. Reynolds explained product would not be at the facility for more than 48 hours depending on weekends and holidays.

He said they would utilize the existing well water to wash equipment and the building facility daily. Reynolds noted they hope to get five to seven cycles from the grey water for cleaning. He explained in the spring, summer and fall they would use the end water to irrigate the tree belt and buffer line they are proposing.

Reynolds said the waste tanks would be pumped several times a year along with the standard sanitary tank system. He noted the overall plan for the site is to reclaim it and have considered grazing cattle up to six months while running the business in the south-central of the property.

Why this business and why in Turner County stated Reynolds?

Reynolds said this is not a pretty occupation; however, it is a growing business. He noted an additional 20,000 head of dairy cattle in 18-24 months would be placed on the eastern half of South Dakota. Reynolds commented that it’s a growing business in the area and the state.

He said they chose this site because of the land proximity of the major roadways. Reynolds noted they have spoken with the neighbors in the area and neighbors agree they don’t have a concern.

Local producer Mike Jaspers said he had worn many hats over the years and it was a privilege to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture and he worked closely with the state veterinarian.

“This is definitely a service that is sorely needed in the state of South Dakota as our livestock numbers continue to increase,” commented Jaspers.

He explained the challenge of having a cost-effective method for the customer that is also efficient in transferring the animals to a rendering facility. Jasper noted the other problem is the lack of services that are not efficient.

Allen said the discussion came about during a ball game and the need for this operation is here. He noted that South Dakota has invested in dairy processing, so this is just another puzzle.

Reynolds noted the area that would be covered would be divided the eastern half of state into four quadrants. He said northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast and a designed route.

Board member Bruce Haase asked who is going to own the trucks?

Reynolds noted the company would own the trucks, trailers. He explained there would be transport drivers and staff.

Jasper commented when a trailer comes in; the container would be unloaded and washed.

Co-Chairman Mick Miller asked what happens to the local area serviced if it has a good month?

Reynolds said the animals have to be received by the rendering plants and the amount of trucks that would go out during the day even on bad month; it would average 50-60,000 pounds from the four quadrants.

Miller questioned the live animal transporting?

Reynolds noted it is based on the investment group and the cattle industry with certified scales. He explained whether it’s going to Minnesota or Wisconsin. He said the cliental base has a use for the product with the product being accurately weighed.

Miller asked would there be live animals stored there?

Reynolds said no; however, if the live animals show up, they are loaded into a separate trailer and transported that same day.

Board member Steve Schmeichel commented the most significant challenge the swine industry would have is per health; it would have to be the pigs are going to their final destination.

Schmeichel asked if the Animal Industry Board has some requirements?

Reynolds said the State Vet Office with the appropriate measures.

Haase asked, is the company aware they are over the shallow aquifer?

Reynolds said they are aware and the Department of Natural Resources will have to grant the permit. 

Schmeichel noted there is a potential use for the facility; however, he doesn’t see if your raising livestock it’s another part of the industry. He said he doesn’t see it as a conflict with the businesses.

Merrill commented that a satisfied percent of the industry is leading the state and the cost is continuing to rise to have the animals picked up. 

He said it would bring the value back to South Dakota.

Conditions placed on the permit granted are trees need to be planted within one year after startup, road haul agreement with Parker Township, 10-12 trucks per day, live animals transported immediately, dead animals up to 48 hours and all products must stay inside the building.

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