Wells County officials Thursday approved the expansion of a concentrated animal feeding operation at 9075S-250E.
The expansion calls for construction of a nearly 7 million gallon holding tank for manure on the property. This tank will be in addition to a manure holding tank already at the site that holds about the same amount of liquid. The proposal from Sunshine Dairy LLC was approved by a 9-1 vote last night by the county Area Plan Commission.
APC member Dan Baumgardner cast the lone dissenting vote.
Johan De Groot Jr. first brought the proposal to the APC in early September, and it was met with criticism from members of the public who expressed concerns about odor, public health and whether the operator of the CAFO had secured the proper permits from state agencies.
While the September meeting was contentious, De Groot found far less opposition Thursday in the multipurpose room at the Wells Carnegie Government Annex, 223 W. Washington St. De Groot, who lives outside Andrews in southwestern Huntington County, told APC members he has secured a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“Really, nothing on my end has happened on the farm, as far as the lagoon,” he said.
Michael Lautzenheiser Jr., the APC’s executive director, said in an opinion to the board the plan from De Groot meets points requirements required by the county. He had recommended approving the proposal.
After discussing details about the plan, two members of the audience — William Morris and Gene Boyer — expressed some concerns.
Morris asked what options nearby residents have regarding proof that CAFO operators might not be adhering to requirements spelled out in their zoning or development plans. He also asked about the points system and whether De Groot, for example, would be required to maintain the 221 points he was given as part of his plan.
Lautzenheiser said operators are required to maintain their points.
As far as what is required for proof of possible violations, APC members said it sometimes depends. Time-stamped photographs could provide enough proof in some situations, but there are some issues that must be taken care of by state officials.
APC member and County Surveyor Jarrod Hahn said he is reasonably sure complaints to the state will result in inspectors visiting the property quickly, usually within 24 hours.
Boyer, who also spoke at the meeting in September, asked how residents could provide the county or anyone else with proof if violations are done late at night or early in the morning.
“Just because they’re doing something at night doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it wrong,” Hahn replied.