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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Environment - "Fish farm plans $30 million expansion: But neighbors raising a stink"

Seth Slaubaugh has this story in yesterday's Muncie Star-Press, it is reprinted in today's Indpls Star. Some quotes:

ALBANY — Bell Aquaculture, the nation’s largest yellow perch farm, is planning a $30 million expansion that would create 75 jobs as it diversifies into cultivating trout and coho salmon.

But the farm, which will produce about 2.5 million pounds of yellow perch, rainbow trout and steelhead trout this year, as well as 300,000 pounds of salmon, is facing a potential roadblock.

Bell’s neighbors Tony and Amy Evans hosted a meeting Monday night to organize opposition to Bell’s application for a zoning variance that would allow Bell to construct a feed mill, which the company says is needed for the farm to grow.

Odor from Bell’s manure lagoon last summer made it impossible for the Evanses to enjoy their garden, patio, summer breezes coming in through their windows and numerous family get-togethers, the couple say.

Bell currently employs more than 50 people at its fish farm on the outskirts of Albany and at its processing facility in Redkey.

The company says a building expansion will increase production to 7.5 million pounds of perch, trout and salmon a year.

Bell already raises fish in two dozen tanks each containing 70,000 gallons of water that is recirculated.

The company just built a $1 million-plus waste­water treatment plant and installed a quarter-acre lagoon last year. Prior to that, its fish feces was treated in a three-acre, man-made wetland.

Tony Evans says the odor problem began last year after the lagoon and treatment plant were added. “We did not used to have this problem,” he said.

Bell has been in business since 2005-06.

Bell president Norm McCowan says the Indiana Department of Environmental Management required the company to add the treatment plant and lagoon to reduce total suspended solids being discharged into a receiving stream.

More from the long story:
The Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals will conduct a public hearing on the variance application at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The feed mill requires a variance because the county zoning ordinance does not allow manufacturing in a farming zone.

There is much more in the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 26, 2014 10:20 AM
Posted to Environment