From a lengthy article in the Seymour Tribune on September 21, 2014:
Jackson County Plan Commission held a public hearing about a proposed confined animal feeding operation ordinance. The proposed ordinance, which has been in the works for nearly a year, would address the potential locations and placement of large scale livestock operations and other issues concerning their operations including odor and appearance.
Earlier this year, a committee of livestock producers and others with interests in agriculture and those with concerns about large livestock operations also have been meeting in recent months to provide input into the ordinance. The county Plan Commission also has had several meetings focused on the subject.
David and Becky Vehslage of rural Brownstown, were two of about 13 who offered their thoughts to the commission. Both said biofilters — designed to lessen odors — should be a must in the ordinance and setbacks should be farther back than what’s currently stated — specifically to protect drinking water and neighboring residences.
David Vehslage, like several others, said he is not opposed to farm operations in general and appreciated the efforts of county officials and others to strengthen the existing ordinance governing livestock operations that was enacted nearly half a century ago. Gary McDonald of Vernon Township, said he thought the ordinance should require farm operators of CAFOs to live on the property that they maintain. This is not a requirement at this time.
Grant VonDielingen of Brownstown said with Jackson County being such a highly agricultural county — in the state and the nation — having setbacks of 1,000 feet from any home will stop producers from expanding. VonDielingen, who once tried to obtain county approval for a CAFO on property his family owns east of Brownstown, asked the commission to consider lessening the setbacks. VonDielingen withdrew his request for a hog operation in part because of opposition from some.
Aly Wells, program manager of policy and regulatory affairs for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, said she’s received several calls from producers in the county about the issue. Wells wanted to let the county know that the department was available if the commission needed guidance about any proposed updates to the ordinance.
The proposed ordinance would not have any effect on a request for a special exception from a Seymour couple to allow for a 4,000-head feeder-to finish hog operation. Robert “Kyle” and Leah Broshearses’ proposed operation would be set on 10 acres northwest of county roads 1050E and 200S between Dudleytown and Uniontown. A public hearing on their request is set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in front of the county board of zoning appeals at the courthouse.
The original ordinance regulating livestock operations was enacted in 1968 and has not been updated since. That ordinance defined a confined feeding operation as any farm with more than 100 head of livestock or 5,000 fowl indoors or outdoors. In Indiana, an operation with more than 2,500 swine weighing more than 55 pounds is considered a confined animal feeding operation and subject to stricter regulations than smaller operations.
The proposed revisions would require future CAFOs to be located at least a mile away from municipalities and unincorporated towns. It also would require farmers to incorporate systems to lessen odors from such operations. Those regulations would require at least three acres for a commercial facility and 300-foot setbacks. A “farm, confinement feeding” may not be closer than 300 feet to an existing residence or platted lot.
The proposed regulations would set the minimum size for a commercial facility at 10 acres, require setbacks of 200 feet and require one mile between a CAFO and an existing residence or platted lot. Other proposed regulations in the ordinance include requiring the planting of trees and shrubs as a buffer and site plans to be prepared by a licensed architect or engineer.
Present zoning regulations do not require any biofilters or buffering (screening planting). The new regulations would require biofilters that could reduce particulate matter by 80 percent and odorous gases by 40 percent and would have to be installed on all pit exhaust fans. It also would require the planting of trees, shrubs and earthen berm that must reach a minimum cumulative height of 6 feet before the CAFO can begin operations.
Jackson County Plan Commission attorney Susan Bevers has been writing a new CAFO ordinance based on guidance provided by the Plan Commission as well as the general public during a series of hearings on the topic. The updated ordinance will not apply to the Broshears CAFO recently approved by the Jackson County BZA.