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Construction of turkey farm creates concerns from neighbors

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UNDERWOOD, Minn.—Construction of a turkey barn near South Turtle Lake has homeowners fearing smelly consequences.

Neighbors say they didn't know the feedlot was being built and are now questioning the standing zoning laws in Ottertail County.

Dan and his wife built and moved into their dream home nearly 10-years ago, but it was only 10 days ago they learned of a turkey barn being built about 1,500 feet from their home.

"Turkey barns are in the prevailing West winds, we will smell the birds," said Dan Erickson, Local Homeowner. 

The feedlot is a partnership with local farmer Ardy Johanson and Jeanie-O-Turkey and the Minnesota Pollution Control says, everything they have done has checked out.

"Anybody can put up a feedlot next to them, and there's no rule against them. If you don't find out about it, my penalty was not reading the paper in February," said Erickson. 

The MPCA requires structures like the turkey barn to be built at least 1,000 feet from water with public notification.

That can be either a letter to neighbors or an article in the newspaper.

"I don't think he really cares or wants to talk to us," said Erickson.

Over half of the neighbors are seasonal, like Matt Hagen and his family.

"He's following the law, he's doing everything right as it stands today, but the wrong is not notifying, expecting someone who is not from the area to scour the local paper, to find a meeting notice, to go to a meeting to voice your opinion," said Hagen. 

Johanson, the owner of the turkey barn says they're expanding the business so their son can farm alongside them.

"We went through a lengthy process of getting all the necessary permits. We have followed all laws, rules and regulations," said Johanson. 

Dan and Matt say it may be too late for them, but they aren't giving up just yet.

"I don't think there's any chance for us, but hopefully people will call and we can get the laws changed so this doesn't happen to anyone else," said Hagen. 

Their hope is to ensure people receive both letters and an article in the paper to make sure everyone is on the same page.

The farmer says the land that is zoned for the barn has been in the family for 30-years.