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Supervisors back to drawing board with septic ordinance

It took only two of the three scheduled public hearings Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Jasper County Board of Supervicors before the board and County Sanitarian Kevin Luetters agreed that Ordinance 61 needed to be entirely rewritten.

The citizens had spoken.

Several showed up to the meeting to express their displeasure with some of the proposed changes that would come along with the ordinance.

“I know you guys have received numerous comments about the ordinance and I have as well,” Luetters said. “I feel there are some changes or amendments that need to be made on this ordinance with all the comments that we received. I would still like to have the public hearing to garner more comments, but I feel I need to take those comments and make some changes and come back to you.”

One concerned citizen said, “Septic tanks have been around a hundred years. And this just creates another level of bureaucracy it looks like to me. What about all the millions of gallons hog manure that’s poured out onto the ground and the thousands of pounds of chicken manure that’s distributed around the farms?

Luetters responded, “I have existing ordinances already. I took those ordinances and consolidated them and tried to make improvements. Ninety-nine percent of what’s in this ordinance was in effect, I was just trying to make improvements to what I had.”

Board chair Denny Stevenson commented: “Sounds like we are going back to the drawing board on this.”

Randall Rusk also spoke against the ordinance on behalf of the Jasper County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the board, number one our issue would be with the wording,” Rusk said. “This county ordinance if passed as is would state 200 feet from a property line. Big problem when you start talking in the country and somebody with a 160-acre farm. That whole farm is their property line. Big problem, I think that needs to be reworded to what the state statute reads, would be our preference on that.”

Luetters said that during the rewrite the 200-foot rule will change. Luetters also addressed the fee and permit that would have come along with the new ordinance. He said that it wasn’t meant to be a way to gain a profit, but as a way to keep the county records accurate.

“We are going to put a stop to this process,” Stevenson said. “We recognize that there are some issues. The 200-foot thing, we are going to have to look at that. Something that I want to get extremely clear here, Kevin’s got a job to do and he’s seen some issues that needed to be fixed.  He put this together and the process is he brings it to us and we have public hearings. One of the things we said from the very get-go was that we were going to have all three public hearings on this.”

“Had we wanted to, we could have had one public hearing and waived the other two and just acted,” Stevenson continued. “We knew some things were going to need to be fixed. This process is working; I want everybody to understand that. Now that we have identified some things we are going to go back to the drawing board and fix some of those things and start the process over.”

Right after the closing of the public hearing the board approved an April 2 public hearing date for construction permit applications for a confinement feeding operation.

Rita Reinheimer then made a plea on behalf of the Jasper County Genealogical Society. The non-profit group uses a county building to house their library.  The building in question has also been the subject of sales discussions amongst the board, but no significant talks have transpired.

Stevenson assured the group that if the building were to be sold they would find them suitable space in another county owned building and that “there is no hurry here” and that they would be in the know if things changed.

County Recorder Nancy Parrot came to the meeting in support of the society. She said the organization provides the county with a “win-win situation” due to the work it does and her office had a great working relationship with them.

County Treasurer Doug Bishop will have to wait another week to have his request to making Hedrick Bank of Kellogg one of the Jasper County depositories.  County Auditor Dennis Parrott told Bishop he would have to submit his request as an official resolution in order for it to be put up for a vote.

The resolution will appear in next week’s board meeting.

The new contract with Keefe Commissary Network for the correctional facility was approved by the board. The board also approved the motion of setting the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget amendment public hearing for April 2.

March 26 is the next board meeting.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at via email.

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