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Published December 18, 2011, 06:40 PM

New Hutterite Colony Planned Near Hillsboro

HILLSBORO, N.D. (AP) — The manager of a proposed new Hutterite colony south of Hillsboro says it will include a new manufacturing plant for building grain handling equipment.

By: Associated Press,

HILLSBORO, N.D. (AP) — The manager of a proposed new Hutterite colony south of Hillsboro says it will include a new manufacturing plant for building grain handling equipment.

Construction of the Spruce Lane colony is planned to start this spring. A group of families intend to move to North Dakota from a colony near Mitchell, S.D.

Mike Waldner, the project's leader, told the Grand Forks Herald that Hutterite colonies normally have about 20 families and 4,000 acres of land. About 2,100 acres of land has been bought for the colony so far, he said.

"We like to keep our operations at a moderate level," Waldner said.

Hutterites are a religious sect with roots in 16th-century Europe. They operate communal farms and often run commercial businesses.

North Dakota has seven Hutterite colonies, mostly in the eastern part of the state. South Dakota has 60 colonies, according to the website Hutterite.org.

Some neighbors of the proposed colony in Traill County's Bohnsack Township are questioning the development. Its sewage lagoon will be near the Elm River, and the proposed manufacturing plant may cause pollution, they say.

An attorney for the opponents, Jade Rosenfeldt of Moorhead, Minn., said their objections were "strictly related to the use of the property. Long-term residents want to protect the rural land. We perceive (the colony) to be a large commercial operation."

The township's board last week approved plans for the colony, a decision Rosenfeldt said may be appealed. The board's chairman, John Henn, said the proposed operation meets zoning requirements.

"I think this is a good thing. They'll be good neighbors," Henn said.

Residents of the planned North Dakota colony will come from the Millbrook Colony near Mitchell, in southeastern South Dakota.

The Millbrook colony now has about 140 members, and about half of them plan to relocate when construction of the Spruce Lane colony is finished in about four years. About 30 members will be on the North Dakota site during construction.

According to plans for the new colony, it will raise corn, soybeans and wheat and keep 700 ducks, 700 chickens and 1,500 laying hens for food. It plans to have an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing plant to build grain-handling equipment.

The colony will also build its own school.

Waldner said the worries of nearby residents "are very understandable."

"With every new colony, there are always concerns," he said. "It's just hard for people to accept change. It's a big change for this area."

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