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Brown County landowners are concerned about a proposed chicken feed operation that is expected to go in near Nighthawk and 270th.

Local landowners expressed their concern to Brown County Commissioners at Monday’s regular meeting over a proposed industrial chicken feed operation that they recently found out about.

Brown County residents Randy Fee, Wyatt Kerl and Jack Geiger, along with Rural Water District 2 representatives David Overdick and Paul Rush voiced their concerns with the potential of a chicken feed farm that is proposed to be built in Padonia Township.

The location of the proposed industrial-sized operation is near the junction of Nighthawk and 270th roads, which is just a few miles northeast of the city limits of Hiawatha.

The landowners said news of the operation reached them just by word of mouth and no one from the company proposing to start construction as early as later February has contacted neighbors to inform them the business was going in.

Sheriff John Merchant was also in attendance at the meeting and he told commissioners his land is also near the area of the proposed chicken feed operation and he was not provided any information either. Commissioners said this was news to them as well.

Sheriff Merchant said several of the area landowners have approached him with concerns, especially about the water supply.

“That water supplies thousands of families, not only in our county but in others,” he said.

Sheriff Merchant also pointed out this could depreciate values of adjacent farms.

A huge concern was wear and tear on the local roads — some which are low maintenance — if semis of chickens and feed would be in and out on a regular basis instead of just seasonal harvest traffic. In addition, the RWD2 representatives pointed out the location was near an aquifer that fed wells providing water for the rural water district and there was a worry about contamination from chicken manure and dead animals.

Jack Geiger, one of the landowners, said he found out about the proposed business through a friend who saw permits for the construction at the state level. He asked the commissioners if they could help facilitate a public meeting with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for area landowners to express their concerns.

Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl said he would ask County Attorney Kevin Hill about to the potential of drafting a letter from the county to KDHE to prompt a public hearing. Lehmkuhl said the commission’s hands were tied since the county was not zoned.

He also encouraged the landowners to send their letters as well to the state to “make their voices heard” in hopes of getting a public hearing set before the proposed onset of potential construction, though to be set for Feb. 20.

In other business:

Mikaela Moore, HFED director, presented the Annual Microloan Program for the commissioner’s approval. Moore also updated the commission on the happenings at HFED. The ROZ program is due to sunset in June of 2021, unless there is a change in the legislation.

County Attorney, Kevin Hill, discussed the contracts with Hamm’s. The rate increase in addendum five to the contract indicates rate increase would be calculated with the consumer price index. Hill also reported on the trailer fires at the landfill.

County Attorney, Kevin Hill, discussed the contracts with Hamm’s. The rate increase in addendum five to the contract indicates rate increase would be calculated with the consumer price index. Hill also reported on the trailer fires at the landfill.

Brown County Attorney, Kevin Hill, requested a fifteen minute executive session. Motion by Lamar Shoemaker for a fifteen minute Executive Session on Attorney Client Privilege to discuss legal matters with legal counsel, to protect the Boards privilege and communication with an attorney with County Attorney, Kevin Hill, James Neeld, and the three commissioners present. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Commissioner Pollock voted nay. Closed 8:20 a.m. Opened 8:35 a.m. No binding action was taken.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Pollock expressed his concern that he did not feel the Executive Session was necessary for the discussions. Commissioner Lehmkuhl reminded that they could not discuss content from Executive Session in open session and suggested Commissioner Pollock discuss any concerns with the Brown County Attorney.

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