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Floyd County Lancer LLC confinement operation back for second swine building

By Bob Steenson,

Last August, representatives of Lancer LLC appeared at a public hearing called by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors, to discuss a request to build two deep-pit swine finishing buildings, each holding 2,500 hogs.

About 20 people showed up at the hearing, mostly opposed to the project, and the board of supervisors voted 2-1 to recommend against the project to the state Department of Natural Resources because of potential scoring problems on the state Master Matrix and other concerns.

Before the state could rule on the application, Lancer LLC withdrew it. Instead, the people behind the project built just one building, which put it below the threshold for requiring a state construction permit.

Now Lancer is back, seeking a construction permit to build the second building.

Floyd County Lancer LLC confinement operation back for second swine building
Lancer LLC confinement operation/application. (Press graphic by Bob Steenson/Google Maps)

A public hearing has been set for 9:15 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10, likely in the district courtroom on the third floor of the county courthouse to allow enough room for social distancing.

“We knew it would happen,” said Supervisor Doug Kamm about the application for the second building.

“Yeah, it was just a matter of time,” said Supervisor Linda Tjaden at a recent board meeting.

The proposal now before the board is for a construction permit for a new 2,501-head deep pit swine finisher confinement building as an expansion to an existing facility. Total animal capacity after construction would be 5,000 head of swine finishes, which under state guidelines is considered 2,000 animal units.

The operation is located in Ulster Township along Lancer Avenue, south of the Avenue of the Saints. Lancer Avenue is also known as county road T38, and is located between Rudd and Floyd.

A room full of people showed up at the hearing last August, mostly opposed to the project because of concerns about flooding in the proposed project area, potential impact on water quality, and the potential smell affecting neighbors.

After the hearing had lasted more than a hour, the supervisors voted 2-1 to send a letter to the DNR outlining concerns and recommending against construction permit approval.

Supervisors Kamm and Roy Schwickerath voted to recommend against the project. Supervisor Tjaden voted against the motion, saying enough questions had been raised that she wanted additional information before deciding on the recommendation.

The reasons the county listed in its letter to the DNR for recommending against the project were:

• A concern that 25 points used to help pass the state Master Matrix on the project were for the applicant’s eligibility to qualify for the Family Farm Tax Credit, for which the applicant may not have been eligible because the five-acre site for the project was under the minimum number of acres required to claim the credit.

• The manure management plan cited farmland owned by James Erb of Charles City as areas where manure would be applied, but Erb said he had not signed an agreement for that. Erb rents out the land and the renter had agreed to manure application, but Iowa law requires the land owner to enter into a manure management agreement.

• Concerns over flooding in the area raised by neighbors and by photos of previous area flooding.

“Although the Lancer LLC site is not identified on the FEMA Flood Maps as a high risk zone, per the map provided, portions of the site are in a flood fringe area. This waterway flows directly to the Cedar River,” the letter said.

• “Air and water quality: This area of the county is becoming more saturated with confinement facilities,” the letter said, adding, “With respect to air quality, neighbors expressed a correlation on the impact of human health and odors from the daily facility operations and when manure injection takes place as well as a risk of property values declining.”

The letter pointed out that Charles City and the Upper Cedar Urban-Rural Partnership had been awarded a $1.6 million grant through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, to increase adoption of agricultural conservation practices to provide improvements in soil health, water quality and to help mitigate excessive stream discharges.

With that effort in mind, “it seems counter-productive to allow permitting of the Lancer LLC application,” the letter said.

The letter concluded, “we continue to raise concerns of the failing master matrix.”