As livestock operations continue to get bigger, a proposal is being floated that could give voters a say in the final approval of new feedlots.
The feedlot issue has been a rancorous one in the state for some time. The most recent dust-up focuses on a loophole in the existing permit process. Currently, other county authorities, like boards of adjustment, can issue conditional use permits for things like feedlots. This technicality matters because last year the state Supreme Court said board of adjustment decisions (including those on matters like feedlot approvals) cannot be referred to public referendum, while county commission decisions can be.
A group called Alliance for Our Future managed to just barely meet the deadline for submitting petitions for the November ballot. If approved by state voters, conditional use permits for animal feedlots would have to be approved by boards of county commissioners, whose decisions can be put to public referendum. Other authorities that might be typically involved in such matters, like boards of adjustment, would offer only action recommendations.
—Ronald A. Wirtz