Linn Supervisors Weigh in, 4-1, Against Proposed Hog Confinement

By Rick Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS — In a letter this week to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, four of five members of the Linn County Board of Supervisors expressed their opposition to a proposed hog confinement operation east of Center Point.

Supervisors John Harris, Ben Rogers, Linda Langston and Lu Barron are opposed to the project by farmer Matt Ditch while Supervisor Brent Oleson supports it.

Harris, the chairman of the board, said this week that the board's position on the project is the same as it was in October, when they weighed in on an earlier, larger Ditch proposal.

Ditch, 4853 West Otter Rd., Center Point, retooled his proposal, and now characterizes it as an expansion of his father's existing hog nursery with 300 hogs. He intends to feed 4,160 hogs for market from the expanded facility, down from 5,661 hogs in his proposal from last fall.

The reduced number of hogs and the characterization of the operation as an expansion of an existing confinement operation have allowed Ditch to seek a construction permit from the DNR without a more stringent environmental review called a master matrix evaluation.
The supervisors score the master matrix evaluation, but without the need for one, the supervisors' role in the matter is limited to making a comment if they choose.

Along with their letter to the DNR, the supervisors provided a transcript of the supervisors' public hearing on the Ditch proposal and letters and emails they received from the public.

An angry contingent of neighbors is opposed to the Ditch proposal, and two attorneys have been representing their views.

Paul Petitti, an environmental engineer in the DNR's Spencer field office who handles permitting for animal feeding operations, said on Friday that he will address the Ditch proposal the week of July 8. He has until late July to issue the permit, he said.
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