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Bruce Forsman, center, and Brandon Volker and Morris Hyshaw, back, work Friday afternoon at the site where a sale barn is under construction in northeast Bismarck.

Though it won’t be nearly as large as Kist Livestock, a new cattle sale barn slated for the north end of Bismarck will give ranchers another option for selling their stock.

Cattle brokers Jess George and Dean Ulmer are partnering to build the facility on 80th Street northeast of town, which will hold weekly sales on Tuesdays. George said construction of the 100-seat arena is weather dependent so they don’t have an anticipated opening date yet.

The sale barn represents an opportunity for ranchers who were left with only one local sales barn following the closure of Farmers Livestock Exchange in 2012. But the business has also caused concerns among residents in the area worried about trailers backing up traffic on 80th Street and runoff from manure, said Burleigh County Commissioner Brian Bitner, who has been fielding calls from constituents.

George said the barn will do both live sales and sell animals via video rather than having ranchers haul them in. The percentage of sales done via video will be dependent on demand and what works best for the sellers.

“They won’t necessarily have all the livestock there,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “That may alleviate some (traffic).”

“It’s amazing how many of these video auctions are being done (by sale barns),” Goehring added about the trend in cattle sales, though he did not have an exact number of how many are held in the state.

Goehring, whose office is in charge of licensing and bonding the barn and signing off on the containment pen setup before operation, said the barn will be mid-sized with fewer than 1,000 cattle on site for a sale.

“This would be small facility, considerably smaller,” Goehring said. “Maybe even a bit smaller than Farmers (Livestock Exchange) was.”

Barns like Kist and Napoleon Livestock handle many times that, said Karl Rockeman, Water Quality Division director for the North Dakota Department of Health.

Rockeman’s office was in charge of reviewing the site to make sure water runoff wouldn’t contaminate nearby water sources with manure. He said their review of the plans show the partners will have adequate storm water storage capacity to contain runoff.

The 8,000-square-foot building sits on 120 acres. The main entrance to the property will be on 80th Street and the barn sits about 400 feet away from the road, allowing space for trucks to pull in off the street, said Bismarck City Planner Kim Lee.

Because the site is within Bismarck’s extra-territorial area, the city handled the permitting. But with that, Lee said they consulted with county staff as well as highway and fire departments.

Burleigh County Engineer Marcus Hall said he reviewed the plans and doesn’t think it’s anything the roads in the area couldn’t handle. Lee said the Bismarck city engineer also determined the road was adequate and did not require a traffic study like those conducted for large scale commercial parks.

County Commissioner Bitner said the project just took many people by surprise in the rural residential area. Lee said sale barns are allowed under agricultural zoning without needing a zoning change and the public hearing process that goes with it. Bitner said he would consider commercial zoning more appropriate.

With the large number of questions coming from the public, the city has been considering holding an informational meeting sometime next month, Rockeman said, though he wasn't sure of an exact date.

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Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter