Feeding operation moratorium extended

A moratorium banning anyone from building a concentrated animal feeding operation in Jackson County has been extended more than three months.

The commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to extend the ban until June 15. Commissioner Tom Joray voted against the ban, as he did when it was first enacted.

Commissioner Matt Reedy said he wants to see what happens at the state level before making a decision about lifting the moratorium. Commissioner Jerry Hounshel, who joined Reedy in voting to extend the moratorium, said it can’t be left in place too much longer.

“We owe it to the people at some point in time,” he said. “They need to be able to make plans whether they want to apply for a CAFO permit or not. We don’t want it to go on forever.”

In February, the Indiana Senate Agricultural Committee stripped the original provisions of Senate Bill 249, a measure that would have limited local governmental control over large livestock farms and given the state more power in the decision-making process.

The committee replaced the language of the original bill — authored by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg — with language calling for Purdue University to conduct a study looking at how existing local ordinances impact CAFOs. That committee is to report its findings to lawmakers by November.

The bill’s original version would have stopped counties and other local governments from adopting any rules more stringent than current state laws on building livestock structures in areas zoned for agricultural use. It was written with the idea of standardized rules across the state, doing away with individual regulations for the 92 counties.

In November, commissioners adopted an ordinance revising a 1968 ordinance to place tighter restrictions on those wishing to construct confined animal feeding operations.

The revised ordinance, which took a year to put in place, regulates size, placement and odor control of such operations.

It requires such operations to be at least 500 feet from nearby residences, and that’s something Hounshel and Reedy said they would like to see extended to 1,000 feet. Joray favors the shorter distance requirement because he said 1,000 feet makes it impossible for anyone to build a concentrated animal feeding operation in the county and could lead to possible lawsuits.

In the midst of discussions about implementing the revised ordinance, two families received approval from the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals to build 4,000-head hog operations.

James Lucas and his son, Matthew, and Kyle and Leah Broshears were not impacted by the new regulations because their applications already had been approved or were in the approval process.

The Broshearses were approved in October to build their CAFO off of county roads 1050E and 200S between Dudleytown and Uniontown. A group of homeowners living near the proposed operation have since filed a lawsuit asking a judge to annul the decision.

The Lucases were approved in December to build an 8,000-head hog operation at 1502 W. County Road 300N in Brownstown Township.

Reedy initially asked a grassroots committee of farmers and some of those opposed to concentrated animal feeding operations to look at the revised ordinance and consider additional recommendations. That group has not made a formal report.

The new ordinance has not been used due to the moratorium, and no new application has been turned in to the Jackson County Plan Commission, according to the office.