It’s strike three for a proposed South Dakota dairy after a judge ordered county officials to cancel permits issued to a planned 7,000-head dairy farm issued nearly five years ago. 

Judge Timothy Bjorkman ordered Hanson County Zoning Administrator Mary Wilcox to cancel the permit after work on the project failed to be completed two years after the permit was initially issued, as reported here by the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader.

The county’s zoning ordinance requires the zoning administrator to cancel conditional-use permits if work hasn’t begun 180 days after being issued or if projects haven’t been “substantially completed” within two years.  

Bjorkman pointed out that neither of the conditions had been met.

Yet, Wilcox argued at a July 31 hearing that the dairy was a “large operation, and the timeline was not designed for a project of this size.” The county also maintained that it had extended the dairy’s permit in subsequent meetings. However, after reviewing meeting minutes, Bjorkman concluded that no official action was taken at the meetings, preventing the permit from being extended.

Bjorkman’s decision is seen as a victory for members of Concerned Citizens of Hanson County, a group opposed to the dairy. The group also confronted the dairy’s plans on the state level, where they successfully challenged South Dakota’s water permits for the dairy. A judge in that case ruled that the state water board failed to adequately access what effect the operation would have on an aquifer, the Argus-Leader reported.