County residents voice concerns
Two county residents attended Tuesday morning’s Washington County Board of Supervisors’ weekly meeting to speak during two separate public hearings dealing with animal confinement feeding operations.
The first public hearing concerned a construction permit application from Mike Norman in Section 13 of Marion Township. The public notice about the hearing states that the type of confinement feeding operation structure would be two new 2,400-head deep pit swine finisher barns for a new swine confinement facility.
Richard Stout of Washington said, “My comment on it is the fact that no matter how they are put in, the owners can’t keep their own stench on their own property. “
Stout said Norman already has a confinement feeding facility on one side of his home, and the new facility would be built on the opposite side of his home.
“It’s a stench that there is not enough days to cover up for the misery of the bad days,” he continued. “This is the way the other one’s going to be.”
In a response to a question from Supervisor Jack Seward Jr., Stout said the facilities are located a 1/2 mile from his home, which complies with state regulations.
The board approved a motion to acknowledge the permit application.
The second public hearing dealt with a construction permit for a confinement feeding operation from Mark Lukavsky in Section 10 in Brighton Township. The type of the confinement feeding operation proposed is one new 600-head deep pit swine finisher barn at an existing swine confinement operation.
Stan Potratz owns a business on the same gravel road where the new swine barn would be located.
“I’m not commenting on whether the building should or should not be built, but I would like to advise the supervisors about 300th Street, which is the same street my facility, Premiers is located,” he said.
Potratz than described a four-mile stretch of 300th Street that is “a very up-and-down road with about umpteenth humpbacks going up and down many blind hills, many blind approaches.”
He said that Lukavsky is a very good neighbor. He said that Lukavsky lives two miles away from his mother and that he has swine facilities at both locations.
“Unfortunately, Mark Lukavsky has the habit of driving at high speed with feed trucks between his two facilities goes right pass Premier,” Potratz said. “All of our people are in fear of running into Mark or his staff driving that feed truck.”
Potratz said that 45 people arrive and leave his business daily. He also has truck traffic in and out of his business.
“The problem with those blind hills as you go up and down, is they’re soft on the edges,” he said. “So this means that people with trucks tend to drive up the middle of the blind hills and make cars and pickups coming up over the hill take their chances.”
Potratz said that by increasing traffic on the road, the county would be increasing the probability of a serious traffic accident.
“I’m just warning you — putting you all on notice — there’s going to be a lethal accident out there soon,” he said.
He said that grading the road and paving it would “impose lane discipline.”
Supervisor Bob Yoder said that the board can’t deny a permit.
“I don’t have the best feeling about this road situation,” Yoder said. “Sooner or later something’s going to happen and I don’t think it’s anything we want to think about.”
Board chair Steve Davis said, “It’s up to us to keep the road in the best situation we can.”
County engineer Jacob Thorius said he had just looked up the traffic count on 300th Street. He found that 70 cars use the road on a daily basis, or did as of 2010. He said there are other roads that have more traffic than 300th. He said that road hasn’t been a priority and he has limited funds to make road improvements.
“I think this whole conversation goes back to a much larger conversation about funding at the state level for the county roads and the proposal to increase the gas tax,” Seward said.
“The one thing I would say if people want this road fixed and are willing to pay more on the gas tax, let our legislators know,” Thorius said. “They say that the public doesn’t want it — that’s what they’re hearing.”
Supervisor Richard Young said of the legislators, “There comes a point where you stand up and not worry about getting re-elected. You’ve got to do what’s right for the people.”
The board unanimously approved a motion acknowledging this construction permit application.