David T. Daniels, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Director, does not find permitting appropriate for a 2,400-head hog facility proposed for Jones Road in Paint Township.
Residents of the Jones Road area who say they would be affected by the proposed hog finishing facility drafted a memorandum and letter to send to Daniels, asking the director to require the facility, if built, to get a Permit to Install and Permit to Operate, due to residential concerns surrounding the location of the proposed facility.
Residents say the area along Jones Road routinely floods when it rains and said they worry about the impact the facility would have on the watershed. The residents point out that the manure from the hog finishing facility would be spread on top of the soil around the facility and say it would likely wash off into the nearby Compton Creek. Residents are also concerned because they draw their drinking water from wells.
Roger and Linda LeBeau, who would be living within a half-mile to the proposed hog facility, raised concerns about the possible health affects the hog facility and the spreading of the manure would have on their daughter, Amy J, who uses a machine to assist her in breathing.
Those residents, with support of the Paint Township Trustees, wrote a letter to Daniels, expressing those concerns, as well as the concern for loss of property value, and requested Daniels exercise his authority under the Ohio Revised Code to make the facility owner and operator, John Surber, obtain permits for the hog facility.
The proposed hog finishing facility, with 2,400-head hog, would not be required under Ohio law to obtain permits. The Ohio Revised Code stipulates that any facility with 2,500-head hog or more is required to obtain permits.
In his 193-word letter, Daniels responded that it was not appropriate at this time to require the proposed facility to obtain a permit, citing that under statute, it would only be necessary if the ODA determined the facility would require “modifications to comply with best management practices.”
Best management practices are recommendations for facility operators to follow to assure general welfare conditions are met for livestock operations.
Daniels, as well as Brett Gates, ODA Deputy Communication Director, declined to discuss or comment on the issues with the Record-Herald.
Dan Drake, the primary author of the letter sent to Daniels, said last week he was concerned that the ODA communications staff did not have the common courtesy to speak with the Record-Herald, but said he was not surprised by Daniels’s response.
“The director’s explanation for not exercising his administrative discretion is nonsensical. In the second paragraph he says that he would exercise his authority only after the ODA has determined the facility shall be permitted as a small or medium facility AND the facility requires modifications to comply with best management practices. It is not the ODA which makes the determination to require un-permitted facilities to undergo the permitting process, it is the director himself! Un-permitted facilities are not required to follow best management practices, and there is no penalty for not doing so,” said Drake.
Because the proposed hog facility would not be required to submit any plans to ODA to review, and because it is not required to follow best management practices, Drake said he wasn’t even sure how the ODA would find out about any issues that would require modifications for best management practices.
“That explanation is completely disingenuous on the director’s part to avoid addressing the serious issues which we raised. The system is skewed in favor of encouraging the proliferation of these completely unregulated facilities,” said Drake. “The Ohio legislature and the Ohio Department of Agriculture steadfastly refuse to acknowledge or address the legitimate concerns of the people who are now expected to live next to these facilities and are told not object to their adverse impacts.”
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton