My title to my first, long ago posts on CAFOs was “Hog Heaven or Pig Purgatory?” I always thought it should be pig purgatory, and I now no longer have any doubts. This short post is about zoning and the lack thereof in reference to CAFOs.
I took the following steps to gather information about the newest CAFO in southern Allen County:
- Contacted Thomas Park, IDEM, to request a copy of the application and manure distribution plan
- Contacted the Allen County Department of Planning and spoke to two individuals
- Contacted the Wells County Plan Commission (the manure is being distributed on Wells County land)
I found out a number of interesting and disturbing things. If the application meets with IDEM standards, then it will be approved. Unless counties have taken the initiative to pass a zoning ordinance specific to CAFO issues, they have little option other than to stand by while IDEM continues its plopping down of these environmental hazards in rural Indiana.
Allen County is one of those counties which has no ordinance specific to CAFOs. Although the county has a new plan called “Plan-It Allen”, it is only a suggested plan and is not law. Therefore, anything contained in the plan is merely what the proponents would like to see. The Plan states that it “provides a framework for future decision making” and that it is “advisory in nature”. IT DOES NOT HAVE THE FORCE OF LAW.
What does have the force of law are the 1960s antiquated Allen County land zoning ordinances which do not take into account the agricultural phenomenon of CAFOs which have been sprung upon the state by Daniels and Skillman. The below is from the County’s website:
THE ALLEN COUNTY, INDIANA,
ALLEN COUNTY CODE – TITLE 3
An Ordinance to limit, regulate, and restricts the development of the jurisdictional
area of the Allen County, Indiana Plan Commission by:
(1) Dividing said jurisdictional area into districts or zones which limit, regulate,
and restrict the location, height, bulk and size of buildings and other structures,
building lines, minimum frontages, depth and areas of lots, and percentages
of lots which may be occupied; the size of yards, courts, and other
open spaces; the erection of temporary stands and structures; the density and
distribution of population; the use of land, buildings, structures and premises
for trade, industry, residence, recreation, agricultural, public activities, and
(2) Showing said division of the jurisdictional area on a set of maps, adopted as
part of this Ordinance and entitled: “Zoning Map of the Allen County Indiana
Plan Commission’s Jurisdictional Area” dated February 2, 1960;
(3) Providing for the administration of this Ordinance, for fees for services in
connection therewith, and for the enforcement of these regulations;
Now be it ordained by the Board of Commissioners of the County of Allen,
Indiana, under authority of Chapter 174, Acts of 1947, General Assembly of
the State of Indiana, and all acts amendatory thereto.
Although Allen County has not yet seen the explosive growth occurring in other counties, it may very well be coming. With no regulations to stop these factory farms and minimal notice requirements, look for CAFOs to begin to pop up in our rural areas.
Wells County – to the south of Allen County – is now home to 10 CAFOs. The individual I spoke to stated that counties have not been able to keep up – in other words to act fast enough to put restrictions in place. A CAFO can be approved in 30-45 days, a time period that is not amenable to holding public hearings and gathering input from the public.
What is really disturbing is that no public input is required for these factory farms – none, nada, zip. As I mentioned earlier, if the application is in order, the state will approve it without a second glance, and the affected county will have little recourse but to stand by and watch if the land bears the proper zoning classification.
The exclusion of public input is unacceptable. The public has every right to be involved in the process of CAFO permitting since the effects of CAFOs impact not only the particular CAFO owner and his or her environment but also the public through contamination of ground water reservoirs and surface water supplies such as our rivers.
I was instructed to contact Bill Brown, a county commissioner, to express my concerns about the issue of CAFOs and inadequate regulations. If anyone out there is as concerned as I am about the issue, please contact Mr. Brown to let him know your thoughts. The plan commission is charged with overseeing zoning regulations and use regulations. I intend to contact Mr. Brown this coming week. Action needs to be taken before Allen County becomes one large factory farm – and becomes just another link in the Daniels experiment of exploitation.
Next post – coming to your town – the Schuhler CAFO.