The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has denied a construction permit for a large dairy confinement proposed for northwest Iowa. Jersey North LLP is hoping to build a 3,600 head operation north of Lawton in Woodbury County. The DNR’s Wayne Gieselman says it’s a bit unusual for his agency to reject a permit. "In a typical year, we’ll have about 250 different applications for different kinds of livestock facilities. In most years, we only deny one or two of those," Gieselman said.
Approximately 50 homes are within a two mile radius of the Jersey North project. Neighbors have raised concerns with the company’s plans for earthen basins to handle the livestock manure. Gieselman says the DNR’s denial of the permit is based on those concerns regarding the structural integrity of the basins, especially in light of the type of soil in the area and the relatively steep slope of the basin walls.
The DNR’s decision is considered a big victory, at least temporarily, for opponents of the livestock operation. "Jersey North will have 14 days in which to appeal the permit," Gieselman said. "They would have to provide information on why the permit should not be denied and certainly they would have to address the soils issue." Gieselman describes the Loess (luss) soil in the area as "silty and void of clay particles."
Woodbury County residents have bombarded the DNR with complaints about the proposed plant, which is roughly 15 miles west of Sioux City. Gieselman says many neighbors are concerned about potentials odors from the operation as well as the soils issue – which ultimately led to the permit rejection. Jersey North officials can now appeal the DNR decision to the Environmental Protection Commission or with an administrative law judge as a contested case.