Master Matrix Meeting Primer: What you need to know

Robbie Sequeira Special to the Herald
A meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Gates Hall in Nevada will give residents an opportunity to have a voice in the process county’s use to evaluate proposed animal feeding operations. Photo by the National Pork Board

The Story County Board of Supervisors will host a public meeting Tuesday, Jan. 22, to address possible changes in the system it uses to evaluate applications for livestock confinements.

The meeting to gain public input on what is commonly called the Master Matrix, will be at 7 p.m. at Gates Hall, 825 15th St., in Nevada. The site was selected to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd.

The issue has been at the forefront of debate in recent weeks after the supervisors in December voted to recommend approval of permit applications submitted by LongView Pork LLC to build three confinements north of Nevada. Last week, the board, which underwent a change on Jan. 1 with the election of Linda Murken, voted to appeal the Iowa DNR’s approval of the permit for the site closest to the city because of concerns that manure applied from the site could reach a city park.

Tuesday’s meeting is not intended for discussion or comment on LongView’s proposals, but rather to discuss the process used for evaluating proposed confinements and changes that could be made to increase requirements and provide more control to local officials who are only tasked with accepting applications, reviewing them and recommending approval or denial to the DNR.

Under state law, the DNR, not local officials, hold the authority to give final approval.

Counties interested in using the Master Matrix to evaluate construction permit applications for CAFO’s must pass and submit a construction evaluation resolution before Jan. 31 for the Master Matrix year that begins in February. Tuesday’s meeting is part of that process.

Today, Iowa producers must have 50 percent (440 points minimum) of the total score and at least 25 percent of the available points in each of the three subcategories of air, water and community impacts to get a passing score.

The board decided to hold Tuesday’s meeting at Gates Hall, which has an a seating capacity of 643. That compares to the supervisors boardroom, which has a capacity of just 75. The supervisors room had an overflow capacity, with numerous interested residents having to stand in the hallway outside of room for the marathon meeting on Dec. 11. Gates Hall’s much larger capacity should dissuade concerns expressed by some residents about the lack of seating during the December meeting.

During the meeting, speakers will be allotted a three-minute limit and individuals and groups were given a Jan. 17 deadline to provide material to the Board of Supervisors.