As the conference room of the Burleigh County Highway Department building overflowed, an informational meeting about a north Bismarck cattle sales barn moved into the shop garage.
At least 180 people signed in to the more than two hour meeting as attendees to hear about the project. The unplanned move led to no microphone and a number of shouting matches.
Many in attendance voiced concerns on increased traffic related to the sales barn. Promises made by County Engineer Marcus Hall to monitor the site and take action as needed did little to quell anxieties.
“They may at some point have to put in a turn lane out there,” he said of the proposed 80th Street entrance. “I go by it twice a day, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.”
Hall also said traffic impacts to 71st Avenue NW would also be monitored and expansion of a bridge on 80th Street is in the improvement plan for 2021.
Area resident Jon Hoefer stated he thinks there will be an accident at the site if nothing pre-emptive is done.
“Put it in now before it goes operational,” he said.
Resident Conna Cook echoed Hoefer, urging officials to correct some of the problems at the start because the chance of correcting them later is “not so great.”
“We’re talking safety and they’re just beating around the bush,” resident Don Bohl added.
The sales barn owners also offered their own possible solution of moving the truck entrance onto 43rd Avenue.
“We want to work with you,” said co-owner Jess George. “If we need to put another approach in, we’ll put another approach in.”
And they would re-enter the site approval process with the city, county and state to do so.
Co-owner Dean Ulmer also spoke of plans to add lighting and widen the approach going into the property.
Cook also said she would also like more information on the number of trucks expected to go in and out, to which the owners didn’t have an exact answer.
“The average citizen here would worry,” she said. “If you drive around here, there are a lot of houses. The roads, I don’t know if they can handle it.”
George did say, if they were to sell 3,000 cattle a week, “which is a lot,” it would require 30 trucks, each weighing 50,000 to 63,000 pounds.
Two people did speak to share their support of the project and thanked the owners for agreeing to it, an action which was not legally required due to the fact that the project meets all zoning and permitting requirements.
City and county officials addressed several other areas of concern:
- Related to whether the sales barn was allowable under agricultural zoning, City Planner Kim Lee said former City Attorney Charlie Whitman determined in 2015 that it me the legal definition of a livestock sales pavilion and was therefore allowed. It has been a part of agricultural zoning ordinances as far back as 1953, she said.
- Because the site has been within Bismarck’s extra-territorial area since 1982, the city handled the permitting. But with that, Lee said they consulted with county staff as well as highway and fire departments.
- All spring load restrictions will remain in place and have to be followed by those hauling anything to the facility
- Assistant County Engineer Casey Einrem said the state Health Department has authority if any excessive smell were to come from the facility and any complaints by area residents can be made there. Dean Ulmer also told a couple in the crowd that there are chemicals available to reduce smell, which the sales barn would plan on using.
- Einrem also said the Health Department also has regulatory powers over mud or gravel not being contained on the construction site or on the sales barn property after operations begin. “They get monitored all the time,” he said of the facility.