Martin County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a property tax abatement for CHS Inc., but with several revisions to the agreement, contingent on the approval of CHS.

Commissioner Kathy Smith shared some information on the project, noting that the real property improvements as it relates to the proposed project is $5.3 million, which is the amount of taxable value that will be abated. CHS has estimated it will spend more than $3.1 million with local contractors and on materials for construction. If the project does not go through, the county, city and school district could lose about $140,000 in taxes annually

Several residents who live near CHS in Fairmont were present to voice concerns.Previous concerns that have arisen include an increase in truck traffic and the fact that the project will bring no new jobs with it. While some issues have been addressed, several citizens spoke up during the public hearing portion.The sentiment was expressed over and over again as concerned neighbors and other community members agreed they were not against the proposed project or opposed to the tax abatement, but said they would like to see changes made at the plant in Fairmont.

Another neighbor said CHS should consider garbage cans and restrooms for the drivers because there have been problems in the past with ditches full of garbage. The citizen said the ditches have been better recently, but wanted to make sure there are proper places and amenities for the drivers included in the plans.

Addressing the issues of privacy that had come up with some nearby neighbors of CHS, Commissioner Richard Koons said in order to go through with the abatement, he would like to see something done in writing that says CHS will put up a fence or tree shrubs to help with privacy.

Local farmer Gerald Tumbleson spoke up in favor of the project and said they cannot even believe the board was debating the issue.

“Just think, if they would expand the plant down the road and what it would do for Martin County. This tax abatement is not just a great thing for CHS, but if you do it for CHS and someone else wants to come in with a business, they’re going to look at this area. If you say no, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, I’ll go to Jackson County. Why would I even look at Martin County?’ This is $40,000 per year. This is nothing compared to the publicity that you’re going to get out of this. This [abatement] is a fantastic idea.” East Chain farmer and former multi-term Minnesota Ag Commissioner and State Representative Gene Hugoson also spoke in favor of the abatement.

Martin County Commissioners approved the abatement unanamously contingent on conditions in the agreement being acceptable to both sides.

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