White County Hog Barn Raises Environmental Concerns

Oct 13, 2015

Residents are concerned a proposed CAFO might pollute Lake Shafer in White County.
Credit US Department of Agriculture / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/

For the second time in two years, the White County Area Plan commission will consider a rezoning request for a confined feeding hog operation that is opposed by neighboring residents.

Gary and Connie Rice want to build a barn that would house 4,000 hogs on nearly seven acres of land.

To do that, the land must be rezoned from General Agriculture to Agricultural Industry.

Plan commission director Joe Rogers says a Tuesday evening meeting will decide whether the Rice’s request meets zoning criteria, such as a required one mile buffer between the barn and a municipality, or a one-quarter mile separation from a residence.

Rogers says the farm owner has a residence within one-quarter of a mile of the barn site. 

"There is another residential structure fairly close. We believe it's outside the area, but it's too close to tell by our measuring devices. So the board will look at those two situations and determine then whether or not they are going to require a variance in addition to the rezone.

Homeowners in the area say the proposed CAFO site is not only close to a subdivision, it ‘s also near the Big Monon Watershed, which drains into Lake Shafer.

Joe Roach, executive director of the Shafer Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation, says his group hasn’t taken a position on the rezoning, yet.

He says the issue will be discussed at a board meeting Thursday night. 

A different CAFO approved in 2013 by White County officials has not yet been built because officials representing YMCA Camp Tecumseh filed a lawsuit that is still pending.