LAKE MILLS — The Lake Mills Town Board of Supervisors continued the discussion on Daybreak Food’s over-the-road conveyor plans at a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13.
“I think the more we discuss this, the more knowledge we have we will be better off for the decisions we are going to make and be faced with in September,” said Hope Oostdik, town chair.
“My objective is to educate and take more feedback from the board today,” said Rick Roedl, capital project manager Daybreak Foods.
Roedl said Tuesday his goal in September is to have the project OK’d by both the town’s Plan Commission and Board.
“We are on schedule and our processing plant is starting up now. Our biosecurity and office facility are being used. We are using our shower-in and shower-out facility both on the layer site and the pullet site,” Roedl said.
Daybreak is requesting three easements or privileges to put a feed conveyor over the road and a water line, wastewater line and fiber optic line under the road. The conveyor will go from the feed mill over the road to the barns across Crossman Road.
“What Daybreak says it will do, we do. All the way down to the colors and the cupolas on the building. We are starting to follow through on that and the issues that have come up we continue to work on those and follow through. We will continue to be your best neighbor,” Roedl said of the company. “If someone says a year-ands-half from now, ‘What’s it like to live next to that?’ We hope people will say it’s not that bad.”
The towers to hold up the conveyor will be 35 feet tall and supported by underground concrete footings.
Roedl addressed the issues the Town’s engineer Cory Horton, RA Smith, gave him prior to the Plan Commission meeting Aug. 6 and said Daybreak didn’t have any objections to the recommendations and indicated they would work with the town to resolve any issues.
“You guys are wanting to do this above ground and I’ve asked if this could be done beneath the ground,” said Sherry Hellekson, a resident on County Highway A. “It’s the smell, the feathers, the sound…If you want to be a good neighbor you need to check about doing this underground.”
“In the time we’ve lived in the Town of Lake Mills we’ve been bombarded with obscene odors and now suddenly noise…Contrary to prior comments (from Daybreak) none of these things have been addressed,” said Micheal Hellekson. “The odors still reek, and they say this conveyor will be quiet, but they got the fans all wrong. It sounds like we live at General Mitchell Airport.”
He went on to say he believes the Town Board needs to make Daybreak fix their current issues before approving the conveyor.
“This thing’s a joke,” said Walter Crossman. “When they started to move land, they put a berm up. That structure’s too close to the center of the road. After that they dug another part of a berm up and put two cement doors on both sides of the road and now they are asking for a permit after they snuck all that stuff in and what are you going to do? You’re going to give them a permit. This thing’s a laugh. You guys are sneaky,” he said, shaking his hand at Roedl.
“My concern is with this conveyor and I’m probably one of the closest houses to this thing and I’m concerned about what the noise is going to be,” said Stacy Weger, who lives on Crossman Road. “You say it’s quiet, but we are dealing with fan noise.”
Anita Martin, environmental advocate who lives in the city, suggested Daybreak get the decibel information on the conveyor.
“We are addressing these issues,” Roedl said. “Relative to odor that’s why we are doing this project in the first place. The odor is coming from the old site and this time next year it will be depopulated.”
Daybreak has commissioned a study by an acoustic engineer to study the noise coming off the farm. A report on those findings will be available in the first week in September.
As far as feathers, as mentioned at the Plan Commission meeting, they come from moving birds from the pullet houses to the layer houses. The route for those moves will be contained to the Daybreak site when the project is complete.
“With birds you have feathers and when they go down the road they do release some feathers. Once that’s on our property you won’t see that.”
Roedl’s answers weren’t enough for residents in attendance.
“We’ve tried to work with them,” said Michael Hellekson. “Why do I have to wait another year? There has to be something that you can do.”
Roedl said putting the conveyor under the road they would run into ground water issues.
Martin asked for clarification on how dead birds are being disposed of on the site. Roedl said dead birds are being taken to a landfill and they don’t currently have an incinerator after the fire on the property in January.
“I think it would be really good for everyone to review the agriculture citing law,” said Oostdik. “Look at the powers the town has in agriculture citing. They are very minimal. An approval for this is required by the town and if we don’t approve this it will probably go to court and this will get solved.”
She went on to say over arguments from the crowd the case of an over the road conveyor is very unusual.
“We have struggled with this as a board that’s why we have Cory Horton, our engineer involved.”
She also mentioned the town has assistance from experts in composing the documents involved in creating the privilege for the conveyor.
“So, you’re already doing that,” Michael Hellekson asked.
“Yes,” she responded. “I’m indicating to you this seems to me a foregone conclusion. It is part of the design that has been implemented from the day this began. We will in the end make that decision as a town board as your elected representatives taking into consideration whatever you say and whatever other evidence we have.”
“I’m concerned about the road,” said Jim Heinz, supervisor.
He believes a bond should be a part of the approval to cover the reconstruction of that part of the road.
“I would want that in place with the other easements,” he said.
Horton said the state only allows the town a $10,000 assurity bond, but the town can set whatever fee it sees fit for the privilege.
“If the sounds are not addressed the town would have the leverage to say according to state statutes, ‘Take the conveyor out,’” said Horton. “I would personally be surprised if a conveyor system that is closed like this would be loud at all.”
Horton also said the under the road easements are governed by different state statues and the board should take quicker action on those.
“If no action is taken or it’s denied the applicant can appeal.”
He said putting lines under the road happens all the time.
Dave Schroeder, supervisor, addressed the comments made by Walter Crossman about the berm in the road right of way.
“The foundation for your tower on the west side of the road I probably OK, but the east side is pretty close,” Schroeder said.
He also pointed out that even if Daybreak decided to go underground with the feed conveyor a portion of the conveyor would still be visible above ground.
“We are going to be looking at more than just that 66 feet that goes over the right of way,” Schroeder said. “I think what you also need to understand, and this isn’t defensive to anyone, if they decided to go underground they are going to be overhead and then underground and then they have to have a leg to go back up.”
Schroeder said those legs would clunk and rattle.
“We know we have a road that’s not capable of handling 35 trucks a day,” Oostdik said.
The board will continue to work on what the privilege would look like and what the payment for the road would be. A decision on the over-th-road conveyor and underground lines could be made at the next Lake Mills Plan Commission meeting Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. and Town Board meeting Sept. 10 at 8 p.m.