Hog confinement “buffer zone” ordinance construed

November 20, 2007 | Erin Herbold


A county ordinance required a two-mile separation between animal waste facilities and occupied residences. In this case, a homeowner appealed the grant of a building permit for the construction of a 960 head hog barn 1.8 miles away. The South Dakota Supreme Court, interpreting the county ordinance, determined that the grant of the building permit was lawful because the facility was a “commercial feedlot” instead of an “animal waste facility.”

Under the ordinance, an “animal waste facility” is defined as a facility with more than 1000 animals. Such facilities must have an “animal waste plan.” A “commercial feedlot” is defined as a concentration of animals in lots or pens of 1,000 or less around feeding areas that is not done in connection with raising a crop.  Commercial feedlots are not subject to the separation distance requirement and need not adopt an “animal waste plan.”

The court acknowledged that the result was contrary with the probable intent of the county ordinance, and one Justice specifically mentioned the need for counties to draft such ordinances carefully and with common sense. Woodruff v. Board of Commissioners for Hand County, No. 24503, 2007 S.D. LEXIS 178 (S.D. Sup. Ct., Oct. 31, 2007).