County updates CAFO ordinance


A county ordinance approved Tuesday places tighter restrictions on those applying for a confined animal feeding operation in the future.

In a 2-1 vote, the Jackson County Commissioners approved the ordinance, which will regulate size, placement and odor control of such operations.

Commissioners President Jerry Hounshel cast the dissenting vote.

The original ordinance concerning large livestock operations hadn’t been updated since 1968.

The revisions go into effect immediately even though a moratorium on CAFOs is in place through March 15.

During discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners decided to approve requiring a 500-foot setback from a feeding operation to an existing residence.

Hounshel said at a previous meeting that his vote against moving forward with the ordinance had to do with that length. His concern was that 500 feet was not restrictive enough.

Commissioner Matt Reedy said he would be OK with 500 feet for now because he’s interested in hearing from a citizens advisory group in the future.

That group, which is made up of those in favor of and against CAFOs, is set to review the ordinance, break it down and bring back recommendations by March 15.

“I look forward to the committee recommendations,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Joray said he approved of the distance because it’s the recommendation made by the Jackson County Plan Commission, of which he is a member.

The nine-member commission took public comments in recent months and has offered its final input on the proposed ordinance to commissioners.

The commission recommended the ordinance not carry a restriction of 1,000 feet or even 750 feet from nearby residences because the county surveyor said it would eliminate CAFOs altogether and violate a property owner’s rights.

“Until you put that on a map and see the results, you really don’t know how it affects the county,” Joray said Tuesday.

In addition to the setbacks, the five-page ordinance states there should be 1,000 feet from a CAFO to a public-use area, education institution or religious institution.

There also should be one-half mile between future CAFOs and all residential districts, 1,500 feet from a public water supply and 300 feet from a well.

The setbacks for a CAFO from a road are to be 200 feet at the front, side and rear, while the minimum lot area is to be 20 acres.

An operation may not be located closer than one mile from the corporate limits of a city or town or one-half mile from an unincorporated city or town.

Commissioners agreed that planting of trees or shrubs as a barrier should be made at the startup of the operation and meet a minimum height of about 6 feet within five years.

The ordinance lays out how the site plan is to be outlined for the building commissioner and also how odor control at the hog operation is addressed.

All CAFO applications, which must meet regulations by the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals, have to be approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management prior to the filing of an application with the building commissioner.

Those wanting to build in a special flood hazard area must have approval from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, too.

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The most recent revision of the ordinance can be viewed online at and click on “most recent minutes.”


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