Residents of Greeley County, Kan., must decide again on construction of new confined hog facilities. This time, it will be official.

On Oct. 21, county residents voted 205-121 in a non-binding referendum to allow major hog farms in the county, according to a report in the Garden City Telegram. Seaboard Corp., Merriam, Kan., has proposed building up to 120 barns with a capacity of 1,000 hogs per barn, an investment of more than $30 million, according to the firm's projections.

A formal special election scheduled for Dec. 21 will now be held to resolve the issue. This time, the result will be  binding.

"We thought our straw poll was good enough. We thought our Unified Board of Supervisors could just approve it after it was approved in the straw poll," said County Clerk Jerri Young, who also is the county's chief elections officer. "It wasn't. They couldn't."

Young said she made the discovery in conversations with the Secretary of State's office. She was told a formal election would be required.

In 1997, Greeley County voters, in a non-binding vote comparable to the one in October, rejected confined hog operations. The next year, county commissioners repealed a resolution they had passed in 1994 allowing large hog farms. That, in effect, left a measure on the books that banned corporate hog farms. Therefore, a formal election must be held to remove the confined hog prohibition.

While it's likely the Dec. 21 vote will result in the same vote of confidence in bringing hog operations to Greeley County, the technicalities must be observed, Young said.

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Source: Greeley County Telegram