Supervisors’ Master Matrix meeting will be at Gates Hall on Jan. 22

Robbie Sequeira Special to the Herald

The Story County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 22, to discuss the Master Matrix — the system the county uses to evaluate proposed livestock confinements as it decides whether to recommend approval of the plan to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Gates Memorial Hall in Nevada to better accommodate the large crowd expected for the meeting, which will come just more than a month since an overflow crowd gathered for a Dec. 11 meeting for a public hearing on the proposed construction of three confinements north of Nevada. After a nearly three-hour meeting on the proposal, the supervisors voted 2-1 to recommend approval of the plan by Longview Pork LLC.

The 23 counties that have adopted a construction evaluation resolution can use the master matrix, but counties must re-adopt the construction evaluation resolution annually between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, to continue to use it. While counties can recommend approval or denial of an application for a livestock confinement, they hold no authority in making that decision, which rests solely with the DNR.

Board of Supervisors Chair Lauris Olson selected Gates Hall as the venue for the meeting, anticipating a large crowd, and suggested the separate meeting time to prevent the Master Matrix topic from overshadowing other regular agenda items in the regularly-scheduled Jan. 22 morning meeting.

In terms of the meeting structure, Olson said speakers will be limited to two-minutes, and given time to engage in debate or discussion with the opposition after all speakers have taken the floor.

The board’s heightened concerns stem from last month’s jam-packed, marathon meeting that saw the board recommend approval of three hog confinement operations north of Nevada to the DNR.

The meeting was highly-contentious, however, with public opposition rallying concerns about air and water quality. The overflow of attendees also complicated matters as the 75-seat occupancy of the commissioner’s conference room couldn’t accommodate such a large turnout.

Olson also mentioned plans of having law enforcement present at Gates Hall for the purpose of crowd control, as well as distilling potential tensions during or after the meeting.