Adell Co-op will build new grain bin

Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

ADELL — The majority of village business Wednesday night was devoted to discussing and approving a request from the Adell Cooperative to construct a new grain bin.

Proceedings started with a Plan Commission meeting. Jerry Leick, representing the co-op, presented plans and graphics showing where the bin would be. The new bin would be larger than any currently standing, and replace four smaller bins.

Leick had appeared at Village Board meetings in the past month addressing concerns from citizens about “bee’s wings” or other dust from the co-op. (“Bee’s wings” in this context has nothing to do with insects. Rather, it is a tiny membrane between a kernel of corn and the cob that comes loose when the kernel is dry enough. Another nickname for it is “red eye” because of its reddish color.)

The nuisance caused by bee’s wings this past harvest season was much greater than previous years — that is, if the number of complaints is a reliable measure of the problem.

At the board’s November meeting, Leick engaged in discussion with residents concerned about the problem. He admitted that this past season’s corn yield had been very high—so high that they’d been unable to accept all the corn brought to them. But Leick said the co-op’s procedures in handling corn has not changed for many years. He did not think a higher yield was the only likely cause of an increase of bee’s wings. A variety of weather factors affecting the crop, he thought, was the likeliest explanation.

Online research shows that bee’s wings are a nuisance nation-wide, wherever corn is processed. Complaints and jokes abound regarding the little red particles, but there seems no practical means of eliminating them from the corn-handling process, any more than dust from harvested dried hay can be eliminated. “Industry itself just doesn’t have a real solution for capturing those bee’s wings off the driers,” Leick said.

With the end of the harvest season, the bee’s wings problem is gone. But with that problem still in the minds of residents and Plan Commission members, Leick received some thorough questioning about the coop’s request for an additional bin. Leick explained grain and corn handling procedures in such detail that Clerk/Treasurer Kelly Rathke would later remark, “I never knew that much about the co-op.”

Leick said the additional capacity was for storage, and should not increase dust.

“Right now, we don’t have enough space,” Leick told the commission. “This year, we had to cut people off. [Crops] either went to [Great Lakes Agri-Service, nearby] or Kettle Lakes in Random Lake.” He said the co-op had also rented a small number of private farm bins.

Noise was another concern. Leick said the sound would be a humming that was well below nuisance-level decibels. The bins “are designed to be pretty quiet,” he said. “If you’re standing next to them, they’re loud. But if you get 20 or 30 feet away, you can have a conversation.”

The humming Leick referred to was from mechanisms internal to the grain bin. But resident Mark Helminger, who lives near the co-op, posed several questions about positioning of external fans. Leick said the fans could be oriented to any direction, to point away from homes as much as possible.

Helminger asked Leick to explain the purpose of the fans. “To cool the grain down,” Leick responded. “We run them around the clock, for up to 10, 12 days, or longer. We want to run them continually until the grain gets cooled down. We have temperature cables in these bins, so we can monitor the grain temperature. The new one will have 34 temperature-monitoring cables.”

Schmitt addressed a written question from Helminger, asking why the village scheduled the Plan Commission meeting, public hearing, and Village Board meeting all on the same night. Schmitt said that has been the village’s standard procedure. The more nights the process is spread out over, he said, the more difficult it is to accommodate everyone’s schedule. “I think it’s pretty common” for other municipalities as well, he said.

“Why is a conditional use permit required?” Schmitt asked, addressing another question submitted by Helminger. “Because anything zoned industrial in the village, before any building is done, any new additions put on, requires a conditional use permit, so we know what’s going to be put up, and we can put conditions on it.”

Schmitt said the co-op’s permit would be issued conditional upon the new construction causing no additional dust, traffic, etc. “If they don’t meet those conditions, we can pull the conditional use permit,” he added.

Leick said an area near the bins that is currently gravel will be paved to reduce dust.

“We’ve always tried to be a good neighbor to the Village of Adell,” Leick said of the co-op. “We don’t ignore” the problems of noise and dust, he said. On the other hand, he said, “We’re an agricultural community, and the whole industrial part of Adell is related. We have the whey factory, we have the co-op, and we have [Great Lakes Agri- Service].”

Schmitt agreed, telling Leick, “We are tied to agriculture more than any other community in the county, I believe.”

The Plan Commission unanimously voted to recommend to the board that the co-op’s request for a conditional use be approved.

The Plan Commission meeting was adjourned and the public hearing convened. There were few questions or comments, so the public hearing was adjourned after a few minutes.

The regular board meeting was convened. During this, the Adell Co-op’s request for a conditional use permit was unanimously approved.

The village board also unanimously approved issuance of tax refund checks for overpayments to escrow accounts, and water relief requested by two residents.

Public Works Director Shawn Bigelow discussed with the board how snow plowing has been handled since the village contracted with the county to do the plowing. Schmitt said plowing is now done on a different schedule, but he and Bigelow both thought the village would be able to adjust.

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