Supervisors say no to hog confinement

Posted on June 29, 2011

By Jason McGrann

CENTERVILLE – Monday night’s public hearing regarding the construction of a hog confinement in the Caldwell Township south of Exline, came to an end with the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors unanimously voting to disapprove the construction permit of the 4,900-hog facility, proposed by White Pork, L.L.C.

The two hour and 15-minute meeting had nearly 40 people voice their opinion to the board.

Wayne Gieselman, Administrator of Environmental Services for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources explained early in the meeting some of the background information from the DNR’s perspective regarding hog confinements. Gieselman also explained possible courses of action following the public hearing.

“I’m not sure what the board is going to decide tonight, but the decision will ultimately come down to the Department of Natural Resources,” said Gieselman. “With a passing score in the master matrix, the DNR will issue a draft notice of intent (DNOI) and that means we’re putting out a public notice stating that we’re going to issue a permit to authorize the construction of this facility. There is a 14-day appeal period that goes along with the issue of that draft.  During that time, the county can appeal to the Environmental Protection Commission. Generally, the commission will hold a hearing and listen to the county as to what their objections are to the project and why it should be denied. It’s then the commission’s decision if they will approve or deny the permit.

“Individual property owners and neighbors have no right to appeal the permit under the law. The appeal process is only granted to the county. From a legal standpoint, it is the county board that would have to file an appeal,” added Gieselman.

A majority of public speakers expressed their opposition to the proposed facility.

“What we are discussing tonight is a very serious issue that will affect everyone in the area,” commented Exline resident Jean Leach. “My dreams have collided with White Pork, L.L.C. Will a small minority of people be able to make money off the misery of the majority? At what point does the will of the people enter into this equation?”

“We really made this about ideas and not about personalities. We think the Whites are a fine family,” commented Vaness Oden, who is a member of the recently-formed group, “Iowans Down Wind”.

Several speakers argued that Iowa was built on farming and that hog confinements are a way of life in the state.

“We would not be considering building a hog confinement if we did not truly believe that it will not have adverse effects on the community We love these people. They are our friends, family and neighbors,” commented Cindee White, whose husband and sons own White Pork, L.L.C.

“Iowa is known for raising hogs. We are the pork capital of the world. Food establishments sell pork and that includes the Exline Country Store. Tenderloins, sausage, bacon – all of these things come from pork. They have to be raised somewhere. Iowa is a pretty good place to do that,” added White.

The three members of the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted no to approving the construction permit for the proposed operation.

“The DNR has the final decision. I believe there have been enough questions on the scoring of the matrix that I am in favor of voting no,” commented board member Jody McDanel.

“I’m in agreement with Jody on that,” added board member John Arnold.

“I just want to say that I’m proud of this whole group of people here tonight. This subject is very emotional for people. The way everyone conducted themselves tonight makes me feel very good,” added Board Chairman Dean Kaster.

Following the meeting, owner Blake White commented that he will go ahead with plans to build the facility if he receives approval from the DNR.

“I really feel like this is the right thing to do. Despite what anyone says, this is a family farm and will be a family-run facility. If I felt like it was going to hurt anybody, I wouldn’t do it. I do not want to hurt anybody and I don’t feel that it will. It will be a benefit to the community,” added White.

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