Syracuse Dairy Adding Beef Cattle to Holly Operation



The Prowers County Planning Commission, following a public hearing on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, approved the request from Syracuse Dairy in Holly for an amendment to their Special Use Permit. The dairy intends to add about 20,000 head of beef cattle on their 610 acre operation south of Holly. The dairy consists of 8,000 head of dairy cows and the heifer operation has 14,500 head.

Frank Mercurio, representing the dairy, answered questions from commission members about the scope of the project which will be located in the southwest corner of the dairy operation. “We intend to bring in bull calves, some heifers and Angus and buy some feeders as we move forward,” he explained. Mercurio said about eight to ten more employees will be at the site. “We’ll expand the pens as we add to the herd,” he said, adding that this will not be on overnight process.

The commissioners inquired about water capacity with Mercurio responding they have permits for three wells, if needed and can also change irrigation water for stock use and will have a 200,000 gallon storage tank on site as a back-up. “We’ve estimated that from 200 to 300 gallons per minute will work for our needs,” he said. The site has also been earth-worked so waste-water run-off is directed to a 23 acre lagoon. No permanent disposal of wastes will be permitted at the site. The developer is required to build a natural shelter belt around the waste water lagoons to help mitigate exposure of them to public view and personnel from the Prowers County Land Use Office will be granted access on the property to ensure the activities at the site comply with the development standards and county regulations.

Holly resident, Merlon Rushton, spoke in opposition to the amendment request, citing his proximity to the dairy and the amount of dust the truck traffic has raised along County Roads Z and 37 which border the operation. “I’d estimate about 60 to 70 trucks a day are on these roads and more during harvest when silage is being shipped to the dairy,” he stated. Rushton said he lives about two miles east of the facility and couldn’t see much benefit it’s brought to the community in general. Mercurio replied that some of that dust is due to the earthwork operations now underway and the company is exploring traffic options that could reduce the number of trucks on some of these roads.

After additional discussion and a reading of the recommendation from the Land Use Office by Michelle Heigel, the commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amendment. Some areas addressed in the recommendations determined the special use will not adversely affect public health, safety or welfare.

The commissioners briefly discussed the application form for future County Enhancement projects. The Prowers County Commissioners have budgeted $25,000 for the construction of fencing for commercial highway properties. The fencing is intended to provide a barrier for salvage yard operations from the main highways leading in and out of the county. The application form needs work, as the Planning Commission had suggestions relating to the percentage of funds that would be allocated to a business request, if businesses within city limits could apply and questions about the type of materials that would be used.

The commission approved the annual meeting schedule, setting 8am, the second Wednesday of each month, as the meeting date. November was the exception due to a holiday conflict, and that date has been changed to the 18th instead of the 11th. The next Planning Commission meeting will be February 12th at the Prowers County Annex Mezzanine.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of HollyCity of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedPublic SafetyTransportationUtilitiesWater


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