Proposed feedlot north of Prosser will see further review

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 19, 2013 

Benton County commissioners Tuesday decided a proposed feedlot north of Prosser should undergo further environmental review.

The 2-1 vote to uphold the county planning manager's determination that an environmental impact statement is needed came during an afternoon hearing, continued from last week.

The decision can be appealed in Benton County Superior Court. When asked what he planned to do next, Matt Driscoll -- who's proposing the 4,000-head feedlot with his wife, Debbie -- said "we'll see."

He declined further comment.

The Driscolls last year submitted a conditional use permit application and environmental checklist for the feedlot.

The county planning manager issued his determination in December.

The Driscolls appealed to commissioners, and the matter drew dozens to the county courthouse last week, with extensive testimony from residents and officials on both sides during an hours-long hearing.

Those who wanted the EIS brought up concerns about dust, odor, traffic and the effect of the feedlot on water availability in the area.

Others testified the feedlot wouldn't significantly impact groundwater levels, and that plans are being worked out to mitigate dust, odor and traffic.

Commissioners deliberated for about a half-hour, but did not make a decision that day.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Jerome Delvin -- who voted against upholding the determination requiring the EIS -- said he didn't feel the evidence and testimony proved there would be a significant environmental impact.

"The issues about the dust, odor, transportation, road use -- that all has to be (addressed) in the permitting (process)," he said. He added it's the role of the state, not the county, to protect water rights.

Commissioner Shon Small, who with Commissioner Jim Beaver voted to uphold the determination, said he doesn't feel it's the county's role to be "water cops." But, he said, "this case forced our hand to take a look and say if there should be an EIS or not."

Beaver said he felt the evidence suggests the project will create a significant impact.

It's up to the county Board of Adjustment to decide on the conditional use permit; that decision would come after the EIS is prepared.

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