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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Plans for hog CAFO in Porter County withdrawn

"Porter County residential, agriculture interests clash over proposed pig facility" was the heading of this April 13th ILB post about, to quote the NWI Times, "a request for Porter County to rezone 40 acres in Morgan Township to allow for a confined feeding operation designed to raise 5,600 pigs at a time."

The Times' Matthew Stefanski reported May 13th on a meeting to review a rezoning proposal to allow the CAFO. The long story includes photos and maps. Some quotes:

The proposal for the concentrated animal feeding operation, which will be owned by Robert Sands at 181 S. Smoke Road, has generated controversy after residents raised concerns about its potential odor, increased traffic and decreased values for nearby properties.

About 50 people attended the meeting, which was not a public hearing and did not offer the opportunity for public comment.

Porter County Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson said the meeting was simply a technical review of the proposal before it goes to the Porter County Plan Commission. Owners of the CAFO are seeking to rezone 40 acres from general agriculture to a high impact district, which would have to be approved by the Plan Commission.

The CAFO proposal calls for two 101-by-10-by-261-feet buildings that will house about 2,800 hogs per building. Pigs will be brought into the buildings when they weigh about 15 pounds, said Mike Veenhuizen of Livestock Engineering Solutions of Greenwood, Ind., who represented Sands at the meeting. They will stay at the CAFO until they weigh about 280 pounds, which takes about six months.

The buildings will house self-contained storage areas to keep manure, where it will be stored for about one year. Veenhuizen said the storage areas will be able to house about seven feet and four inches of manure in an eight foot tank. Veenhuizen asserted Sands would be able to manage the appropriate amount of nutrients in manure, by testing the manure at least once a year in accordance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management requirements.

Committee members voiced their concerns regarding potential odors in the area. Veenhuizen referred to a field test model from Purdue, and said the odors would be 99 percent contained within a half-mile of the facility.

If the proposal is approved, water and sewer would need to be provided to the CAFO through local utilities, due to high impact redistricting. In addition, committee members said Sands would have to comply with a Porter County ordinance that prohibits any discharge other than storm water into water drains.

Porter County Highway Superintendent David James voiced concerns about transportation to the farm on Ind. 8 near the proposed location, which currently doesn't accomodate regular semi-truck traffic. Semis will be used to transport livestock every six months when hogs are shipped out and new shipments are brought in. Trucks will also regularly transport feeding supplies to the facility.

Soil and Water Conservation District engineer Harvey Nix raised concerns about where the remains of dead hogs will be placed. Veenhuizen said there is no current plan regarding a location for dead hogs. He said due to the size of the facility, on-site burials would not be possible. Veenhuizen suggested incineration and composting would be possible options.

On May 18th the same reporter wrote:
The family proposing a hog farm in Morgan Township has decided not to pursue the project after facing wide opposition from local residents.

Robert Sands and family announced their plans to withdraw a rezoning proposal for the concentrated animal feeding operation at a press conference on Monday at the family’s farm.

The same day Amy Lavalley reported in the Gary Post-Tribune in a legthy story:
Opponents of an industrial hog farm proposed for Morgan Township called their efforts a success Monday after they learned that the proposal for the 5,600-hog operation has been withdrawn.

Robert Sands announced Monday afternoon on his property that he had withdrawn a zoning change petition that would have accommodated the proposed facility. His son, Brandon, an agricultural student at Ivy Tech Community College in West Lafayette, had pitched the proposal to his father as a way of growing the family farm at 181 S. Smoke Road. * * *

The proposal, which required a land rezoning from general agriculture to high-impact use because it needs a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, was scheduled to go before the Porter County Plan Commission for a May 27 hearing. That meeting has been canceled. * * *

On Friday, Mayor Jon Costas filed a letter against the farm with the Porter County Plan Commission. City staff members recently toured Belstra Milling's operation at Fair Oaks.

"I'm glad to hear the petition was withdrawn because it was simply not a good location for this operation," Costas said Monday, adding other places are better suited for industrial farms. "These operations are necessary and everyone likes bacon, but to have such an intense operation that close to a growing city is not good planning."

A plan would not have been the first CAFO in Porter County. One that has 4,000 hogs operates in Kouts.

See also Post-Tribune columnist Jerry Davich's May 19th article, "Grass-roots activism flexes more muscle, less pork."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 20, 2015 01:19 PM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government