This may be a first for any city in the United States, and perhaps the world. A city is exploring the possibility of annexing land to have a modern dairy farm built within their city limits.
The City of Claremont, Minn. council members in their January 25th meeting moved to take under study a move to promote economic development with the possible annexation of the land where the proposed Ripley Dairy is to be built. The council members will study the financial impacts for the City and citizens of Claremont, legal advice to determine if an annexation of this type could be successful and any changes that the City may have to make to its own code in order to allow an operation of this size.
When the City found out Bill Rowekamp and his landowner partner Ben Zaitz had decided to put building the Ripley Dairy on hold they started discussing possible ways help bring this economic engine into the community. There are numerous economic impacts involved in such a development; the immediate being an addition of 32 jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $960,000.
Rowekamp says, "The Ripley Dairy would have the potential to supply renewable electric energy to Claremont, as well as provide organic fertilizer for use throughout Minnesota. In this day and age of energy shortages and environmental concerns a renewable and sustainable project such as the Ripley Dairy, is worth exploring.
"We are pleased the City of Claremont has recognized the potential positive economic impact of this new dairy. Not only will the dairy help the city with taxes, the dairy has the potential of attracting other businesses needed to support the dairy in Claremont," he says. "We welcome the input of the Claremont City Council and look forward to a healthy discussion."
Over three years ago, Rowekamp embarked on a partnership to build and operate a state-of the art dairy facility to house 2,140 dairy cows on farmland owned by Zaitz in Dodge County. The partners believed that Minnesota would be a favorable place to do business in light of the stateâ€™s history as a dairy state, the suitability of the land base, the economic value that the owners believed would contribute to the area, and on the fact that Minnesotaâ€™s dairy processing industry is in need of an increasing fluid milk supply for long-term viability of its infrastructure.
The partners followed and went beyond all the rules and regulations for building Ripley Dairy. They acquired all necessary permits from the county and state. All permitting boards voted unanimously in favor of the project. The community was engaged in the project through a Dairy Review Board appointed by the township supervisors. This board conducted an exhaustive review of the dairy and developed a list of conditions, which were agreed to be included in the building design. Following this review, the Ripley Township supervisors approved the project.
"We appreciate the expressions of support that many have given to us and to this dairy. We know it is a dream shared by many," explains Rowekamp. "We will continue to challenge elected officials and business owners to make the changes necessary to help dairy farmers improve their businesses in Minnesota while protecting everyoneâ€™s rights and the environment."