Linn County Supervisors to Appeal DNR Hog Confinement Decision
By Rick Smith, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Board of Supervisors will exercise its option and demand that a state commission hear the board’s appeal of an Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ decision to grant a Center Point farmer a draft permit to build a confinement building for 4,160 hogs.
After a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday morning, four of the five supervisors said they will take advantage of the option to appeal the DNR’s decision to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission as set out in state law.
Supervisors John Harris, Linda Langston, Lu Barron and Ben Rogers said they would demand the hearing, while Supervisor Brent Oleson said he will vote against the idea when the supervisors formally vote on the matter on Wednesday.
In June, on the same 4-1 vote, the supervisors sent a letter to the DNR opposing farmer Matt Ditch’s request for a state construction permit to expand his father’s 300-hog hog nursery into a confinement operation that will feed 4,160 hogs at a time for market.
Last week, the DNR granted Ditch a draft construction permit to build the facility at the family farm, 4853 West Otter Rd.
In the permit process, the supervisors have 14 days to announce their intention to file an appeal and 30 days to file the appeal.
Les Beck, the county’s director of planning and development, told the supervisors on Tuesday that they have the ability to appeal the DNR’s draft construction permit and to ask the Environmental Protection Commission to place conditions on the construction should the commission permit the construction.
Beck noted that the commission can only deny the construction permit if the construction plan fails to meet Iowa law, and Beck said he and his staff believe that the plan meets Iowa law.
About 20 neighbors were at the supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday to ask the supervisors to take advantage of their appeal right to fight the Ditch plans.
Ditch is working with Maschhoff Pork of Carlyle, Ill., and the firm’s Samantha DeWitt told supervisors that the DNR has abided by state law in granting the draft construction permit and that the Ditch plan meets the state requirements.
Ditch has retooled an earlier proposal, which called for a confinement operation with 5,661 hogs.
Ditch also has told the supervisors and neighbors that he will employ an odor-control system at the confinement building, will plant trees around it and will inject the hog manure into farm fields and not spread it on top of fields.
Linn County has 16 hog confinement facilities, 14 with manure management plans, the DNR has reported.
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