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Commission, board approve zoning amendment

A proposal to convert dairy manure into biofuel has triggered another change for Stevens County.

The county's planning commission voted on Jan. 7 to recommend to the county commissioners amending the county's zoning ordinance to allow for conditional use permits for agriculture processing plants in agriculture, highway service business and limited industrial zoning districts.

The county board passed the recommended amendment at its Jan. 8 meeting. The amendment means Amp Americas can apply for a conditional use permit to build and operate a processing plant that converts dairy manure into biofuel.

Although the amendment discussion was started by the proposal from Amp Americas it would cover agriculture processing plants for "any ag product," said Ben Oleson of Hometown Planning, a consulting firm that helped with the county's new right-of-way ordinance and with the amendment to the zoning ordinance.

"This is not just a change for Amp Americas," Oleson said.

Yet, the zoning amendment is another step forward for the proposal from Amp Americas to convert dairy manure from three Riverview LLP dairies into methane. The proposal includes a conversion plant and about 14 miles of underground low pressure pipes installed in county right-of-ways that would transfer the pre-full converted biofuel and the fully converted biofuel. The biofuel would eventually be injected into an Alliant high-pressure pipeline in the county.

Four of the five members of the commission present at the meeting voted in favor of the amendment. Members who voted in favor were chairman Ace Sperr, Knute Christensen, Richard Buro and Keith Marty. Jeff Boyle abstained because he is employed at Riverview.