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Silage dispute spills over onto city streets

Staff writer

Contention between Lincolnville feedlot owner Mike Beneke, who owns the former Straub’s International location at 601 W. Main St., and city officials has ratcheted up since Beneke was cited July 24 for a nuisance issue over piling silage on the property.

Now Beneke is parking semis and farm equipment downtown and on Friday parked his six-door limousine on 3rd St. across from Central National Bank with the words, “Up yours, Mayor H” written in the dust on the car.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt, president of CNB, had police warn Beneke when he started parking semis parallel to the curb downtown.

Heitschmidt said he did talk to police about the semi parked on Main St.

“Actually he did it two days in a row,” Heitschmidt said. “He also parked a silage cutter on Main St.”

Beneke believes he’s being singled out.

“I think I’m getting scrutinized pretty closely,” Beneke said.

Heitschmidt contends that’s not the case.

“We asked him to stop putting silage on his property, he ignored that,” Heitschmidt said. “I just don’t get it. Within just a few days, he’s violated several of our city ordinances.”

Heitschmidt said the city is trying to make Beneke follow the rules.

“It’s the proverbial taking the newspaper to the dog’s nose until he stops doing what he’s not supposed to be doing,” Heitschmidt said. “It’s not picking on him. If you’re not going by the guidelines, how good a citizen are you being? He is wasting a lot of taxpayer money.”

City administrator Roger Holter said the city has received a number of odor complaints from residents living near the silage.

“Now safety concerns have been brought forward regarding kids playing on the silage pile,” Holter said.

Beneke’s July 24 citation gave him 10 days to either remove the silage or file a written request for a hearing.

The property is zoned for commercial use, not agricultural.

Last week Beneke met with city economic development director Randy Collette to request a hearing on the matter. His request was given to city attorney Susan Robson.

“The staff was pretty amused at me,” Beneke said. “I wrote it on a little post-it note.”

Beneke said he considers it a matter of interpretation whether having silage on the property violates zoning ordinances.

“My thought is, the property is being used for open storage,” Beneke said. “I’m not growing it there.”

A hearing to determine the fate of the silage is set for 8:45 a.m. Tuesday in the municipal courtroom at City Hall.

Beneke has a history of contention with various officials. Ongoing issues with county commissioners over road conditions during the last three years have led to Beneke dumping gravel on a section of road east of Lincolnville and a truckload of dead tree branches on the courthouse lawn.

According to Theresa Freed, deputy secretary of public affairs for Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Beneke has twice had issues with the state agency as well.

In June, a fertilizer tank ruptured on Beneke’s property, spilling 4,000 gallons of fertilizer on the ground, Freed said.

Contaminated soil was removed and samples taken. Weather has delayed further evaluation of remediation efforts, but more will be done in the near future, Freed said.

In 2006, Beneke’s feedlot was found out-of-compliance for operating without a permit and wastewater controls.

Beneke obtained a permit, installed wastewater controls, and is making payments on a $31,000 penalty, she said.

Last modified Aug. 9, 2018

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