Sonstegard Food granted third conditional use permit

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s Turner County planning and zoning meeting, a motion was made to grant Sonstegard Foods third conditional use permit with the conditions for a full progress report be turned in within 30 days. A preliminary report must be turned into the board under the original permit and reflect and reciprocal conditional permit hearings. 

Attorney Brian Donahoe said in this particular application the reason for a conditional use permit is to comply with the conditions placed on the laying hen facility. He explained it required for Sonstegard Foods to come back and receive a new conditional use permit for the egg washing process facility and for the storage basin that would collect the processed wastewater from the processing facility. Donahoe noted the processing facility is a single structure, one-story building that would be located in the south part of the area along 273rd St. He said the separate facility will hold the processed wastewater from the washing, which is located to the north and would be collected until land application. Donohoe noted the requirements are based on the approval of the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He explained this is not an animal feeding operation so those standards do not apply. The storage would be approximately 500’  x 500 ‘ and it would contain sufficient storage for one year, which exceeds the DENR requirements. 

Parker citizen Marvin Miller said he is concerned with the facility in the location and that it might interfere with the wildlife production area. He noted with the location the transfer of disease is possible from one animal to another. “How are they going to propose to prevent disease transfer to wildlife?” asked Miller. Miller noted his other concern is when it is time to spread manure it could easily infiltrate and infect the WPA (Wildlife Production Area). He explained this area is funded by Duck Stamps.  

Pete Sonstegard said regarding the animal’s disease and the spread of animal disease is always a concerning issue. He noted with the sites the employees do shower in and shower out of the facility to prevent from spreading disease. He explained all the birds are housed inside the chicken house. Sonstegard said they are bringing air in so there is a risk of transmission through the air. We are always concerned about wildlife and acknowledge the WPA is there in the area commented Sonstegard. 

Donahoe said the concerns that were expressed are legitimate but it would apply more to the existing conditional use permit and not for the permit for the egg processing facility. He noted the concerns that they are being recognized and are open to the idea of speaking with Mr. Miller on those issues. 

Chairman Eric Meyer asked where is your water source coming from?

Sonstegard replied they have well water and TM Rural Water. 

State’s Attorney Katelynn Hoffman said she believes it would be up to the board and she is aware of several conditions that were added on the original permit. She noted out of the seven conditions, this is condition number five to have him come back and apply for a separate conditional use permit. 

Meyer said in his opinion, he feels the board has already granted two conditional use permits in Turner County for Sonstegard. He commented that he would like to see something moving forward in the form of construction before the board grants a third permit. Meyer noted at this point, Sonstegard has two permits, he suggests to table the third permit until he gets his construction moving. 

Board member Mick Miller asked, is there a reason that nothing has happened because it was in court?

Hoffman said Mr. Donahoe could speak about the things they have done so far because that was a question brought upon whether the building permit or the original permit had expired. She noted Donahoe provided her with a list of items they have done that isn’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. 

Meyer commented that he doesn’t want the board to look reckless to the public. He understands the points, however, he doesn’t want to make it appear to the public the board just hands conditional use permits out. 

Miller asked if there is a projected time frame when things are going to happen? 

Donahoe clarified the second permit is still in litigation and still has not gotten through the appeal process. He noted the chick-rearing facility permit is subject to be heard by the South Dakota Supreme Court. Donahoe explained in regards to the original permit for the laying hen facility the construction started, but it had to go through a freeze/thaw cycle. He noted he would be happy to give the board a detailed report on the things that have been done.

After the meeting, a progress report was turned in by Sonstegard. Out of the 26 items that they have completed at the site northeast of Parker, some of the progress includes: 

South Dakota Department of Natural Resources – state general permit

Structural engineering for process plant

TM Rural Water application and engineering

Soil sampling

Sit prep dirt modeling engineering

Electrical engineering for utilities both on-site and local 

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