Location 500N & 100E

Planning commission meeting October 9, 2019 at 7:30 PM.

Commissioner Larry West called the meeting to order. Several citizens from Miami County were at the meeting tonight to voice their opinions on a proposed CAFO (Confined Animal Feed Operation) hog farm that is scheduled to be installed at 500 N just west of 100 E (Between 100 E. & The Nickel Plate Trail - in fact, it will be less than 1/2 mile from the Nickel Plate Trail). Most of the citizens in attendance lived near the proposed area and were voicing concerns about this project. Many of them weren’t made aware of this farm being installed near their home until just a few days ago.

The current project plans include a facility that will be capable of holding 4,620 pigs, and a concrete manure storage facility will be built under the facility that will hold 1 year of pig feces and urine. They also stated Manure would be land applied at least one time per year using injection or incorporation land application methods. You can see the letter of introduction that the adjoining property owners received. Many property owners in the area, but not adjoining did not receive letters, and many have just found out about this project a mere week or two ago.

Commissioner Larry West began collecting names and addresses of the people that wanted to speak.

One Audience Member asked if it would do any good if he spoke. Commissioner Larry West stated he couldn’t tell him if it would make a difference or not, that they can’t appeal to this board, that they have to appeal to IDEM, but that the board was here to listen. The audience member clarified “So Miami County can’t put any regulation out to help the neighbor’s of this property?” Commissioner Larry West said, “not at this point”. Someone asked at what point does that come into effect after there is an incident? Commissioner Larry West stated “if there was anything changed in the zoning ordinance, it’d have to be done... you can’t go backward, it’d have to be.... and someone chimed in “it’s not retroactive”, and Commissioner Larry West confirmed with a “no”.

Bryce Runkle stated that he didn’t know if speaking would do any good, but continued that there are already 50 CFOs/CAFOs out there right now, and does Miami County have anyone checking those out? Mary Kay stated that there hasn’t been in the past, that she is the new administrator, and their job now is to inspect as it is being built. Mary Kay stated that they do have weekly tests that they have to do, per the state. That the state has the requirements, and they just check out sites as a courtesy to help the state, but that they will check them out, but asked for the audience members to understand that she has two part-time inspectors to handle this, plus everything else, but they will try. The audience member stated that they were creating a necessity because at 50, they can’t check 2 a month, and check them all. And further stated that Miami County is in the top 10 in the state with these things (CAFOs). He continued that the assessed value is like 1/2 a million bucks for these things, and asked do the neighboring properties get relief assessments just like they do for the dump on 550 North?

Commissioner Larry West interrupted at this point and stated that they weren’t ready to take all their questions yet, that they were just trying to get a list of names of people that want to speak, that they are limited on time. And he then stated that the state has the regulations that must be followed.

Commissioner Larry West continued to get the names of everyone who was wanting to speak, with their addresses written down. Then he went through the list one by one to let people have 2 minutes per person to speak. He also asked if anyone was concerned about any “other” location other than the 500 N. An audience member asked, “Is there more that we don’t know about?”. Commissioner Larry West stated there are 2 more that are in the process of going up. Another audience member stated there are two in the south that are going up. One has the foundation down, and the other hasn’t broken ground yet. Commissioner Larry West then stated, “I wouldn’t say it’s a weekly occurrence, but they frequently go up”. An audience member and Commissioner Larry West both filled in the full details, that so long as the person has ten acres of land, passes IDEM’s permits, and has the proper setbacks in place, that was all someone had to have to put up a CAFO. Commissioner Larry West then states the county can be stricter than IDEM, they can’t be looser, but they can be stricter.

The first person they called up to speak was Tom Hoover. Tom Hoover stated that yesterday he had called up and talked to the Commissioner’s Secretary Mary Brown, and was referred by her to the Planning and Zoning Office, he says he was informed there was a meeting, open to the public, to discuss the Hog Barn being built... 500 N. by the Nickel Plate Trail... Tom Hoover continued that after talking to her, that he was led to believe that the meeting would conclude with some sort of judgment or something reached, and apologized if he was misled. He then said he was sorry, because he delivered papers to 33 houses in his area, telling them that there was a meeting tonight... and that not all of them showed up, but some of them did... and that if there was nothing that was going to happen tonight then he wanted to apologize to them... and then asked... but if nothing is going to be done tonight, then what are you all doing here (speaking to the Zoning board). Commissioner Larry West stated that it was their normal meeting night, and they had nothing else for the agenda, so they were planning to have a meeting. Tom Hoover apologized and said he wasn’t trying to be rude, that he just wanted to know what they were doing if they couldn’t do anything. Commissioner Larry West responded it was alright, that this is the Zoning Board’s normal meeting night, and that they had several people that couldn’t make it tonight, but they thought about canceling the meeting, but the word got to them, that there were going to be several people that wanted to express their views on this, so since it’s their normal meeting night, they said they’d go ahead and have a meeting. Tom Hoover stated “OK, I’ll go ahead with the rest of this” as he was reading from a prepared note that he held in his hand. Tom Hoover read a few lines and was told that his time was up. Tom Hoover stated he wasn’t finished and continued reading. Commissioner Larry West again told tom that his time was up, and as Tom Hoover continued to read, Larry West called for the sheriff to eject Tom Hoover from the meeting, and escort him out the door.

Commissioner Larry West stated to appeal, you have 15 days to appeal to IDEM, that they can’t appeal to the Zoning Board, because the Zoning Board has no say in it. That the area they want to build is zoned Agriculture, so this board has no control over it. An Audience member clarified “So let me get this straight, Miami County has no rules for CAFOs, as long as it’s zoned Agricultural, you don’t care about the water runoff...” Commissioner Larry West intercedes and says “That’s the State, the State has control over that”.

According to Commissioner Larry West, a Confined Feed Operation or a Concentrated Feed Operation only need have 10 acres of land, and they abide by the 1,000-foot setback from any buildings not owned by them, and have not signed a friendly neighbor agreement; are issued a permit to build their operation. There are no other inspections, rules of operation, or requirements. All they have to do then according to County Attorney is comply with state statutes. That all the regulations that must be followed are at the state level.

Earlier in the meeting, we were informed that Miami is at the top of the state for Confined Feed Hog Production Sites.

Commissioner Larry West stated, “We are an agricultural county, Agriculture means a lot to this county, but we can’t move out into the county and then not expect certain things happening”. One audience member stated that “there are no animals in their area, no animal farms in their area, that’s why we live in that area”.

Audience member, Sherry Gassoway asks if the owners will have to sign a financial liability statement for any unforeseen negative reactions that may come upon the properties and surrounding neighborhoods in the area. She continues that some counties have that and require the CAFOs to take out an insurance plan to protect the citizens. She states that she was informed by Kraig Labs in Kokomo, guaranteed that they all will have repercussions from the CAFO when Commissioner Larry West asks what repercussions, she states contaminated water & wells. The representative from Kraig Labs said they do this every day, and that they are willing to come out and test wells now, so they have a baseline, and then once they (the CAFO) is up and running, they will come out and test on a regular basis. Commissioner West stated to her “That’s up to you folks if you want to pursue that”. Sherry Gassoway responded, “See, that right there tells me you don’t care if my well’s contaminated”. Commissioner Larry West laughed and said, “No, I’m saying I can’t sit here and say it will be, and I can’t sit here and say it won’t be...when something was done out south of town here....” And then Sherry Gassoway asked, “so what happens when it is contaminated, then what?” Commissioner Larry West said “That’s...”.... and didn’t answer the question, and other people in the audience chimed in with Sherry Gassoway... “...you’re just out of luck?!”. Sherry Gassoway then stated that her daughter has autoimmune disease, and she has proof of it from the state, and she was advised by her doctor from the Cleveland Clinic, that she will never be able to come to our home ever again, because of this place, that there are 150 different pathogens and it could also cause death to her. She continued that her daughter comes to her home every day with their grandchildren, and now they won’t be able to come, and she’s gonna have to tell them that they can’t go to grandma and grandpa’s anymore, there will be no more Easter egg hunts, no more bonfires there as a family, because of this.... "But you don’t care if my daughter lives or dies, what if your daughter couldn’t come to your home ever again and bring your grandchildren to your home because of one of these places..." One of the audience members interrupted and advise her to also have her property appraised before the CAFO is built, and Sherry confirmed that she planned on it.

Rebecca Aspinwall stated “Well I was gonna ask about the Water, but we’ve already talked about that, so I want to ask, what about the casualty of animals, the dead animals because there is gonna to be some, where are they going to be stored? How long will they be stored? I saw that they were going to be picked up for rendering, so how frequent is that going to happen? We don’t want those to be attracting more coyotes in the area, which there is already a lot of... you know that poses dangerous to us...." Commissioner Larry West said that he would have to talk to Lisa Ford, the Environmental Health Officer, that he would ask her, stating “I know that routinely “Rick Angelle” has a truck that comes around and picks up hogs, like other hog farms... Someone from the audience chimed in stating that the company that owns the hogs would sometimes come around and haul them, and that also they are composted on site. They said that they are usually composted onsite, because the people building the barns, don’t own the hogs.

Many in attendance raised serious concerns of not only noxious odors that will be emitted for up to 2 miles away (or more), but also for air quality. Particularly the chemicals that will be aerosolized into the air (methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide). Solids produce amines, mercaptans, alcohols, carbonyls, and sulfides. All of these chemicals are considered dangerous and many give off noxious odors.

According to Missouri Extension Office: Carbon Dioxide is an Asphyxiant, Ammonia is an Irritant, Hydrogen Sulfide is a Poison, Methane is an Asphyxiant, Carbon Monoxide is a Poison. The air quality concern must also include particulate matter.

Commissioner Larry West stated that was all concerns of IDEM and not the county. Many people said in the meeting that they had contacted IDEM and were referred back to the county legislature.

The last confined pig farm operation that raised a lot of concern in Miami County appears to have been the pig farm that was approved near Mississinewa Dam called Boss Hog & Snowhill Ridge for 9,200 hogs. There were a lot of people concerned about its placement, and a lot of media coverage earlier in the year.

Another concern raised was what would be done with the carcasses of dead pigs. Questions were asked like:  "Would they be rendered?" If so, "what is the requirement for pickup?" And another person in the audience stated that most CAFOs actually put the carcasses in a compost heap.

One of the larger concerns also raised was about the road traffic, and who would have to pay to make the roads passable for semi-trucks that would need to gain access to the CAFO farm? Would the citizens of Miami County have their taxes raised to accommodate this?

Most of the questions raised went unanswered. Larry West pointed out that he just could not answer most of the questions, that the County Zoning Board wasn’t in a position to do much about citizens' concerns.

Another audience member also stated that Wabash County has an ordinance that is much more strict. Commissioner Larry West said that they would look at Wabash’s ordinance. By the end of the evening Commissioner Larry West agreed to send a request to the commissioners to consider changing Miami County’s Ordinance regarding CAFOs and CFOs and decided to put a team together to write a replacement ordinance, he stated that he would take 5 audience members, which were picked from the group, and would also involve Council Member Brad Fruth to head up the committee.   Audience Members Bonnie, Scott, Sarah Welke, Elaine Gregstrom, Sherry Gassoway.  

An audience member informed us that she owns property very near to the proposed site, but was not informed of the Confined Feed Operation until two weeks ago. She stated that she did not receive a letter advising her of the circumstance because she was not an abutting neighbor. However, she states: “When it rains, the water from the field where they are building that CAFO hog operation travels through the valley & across 100 E where it either enters a gulley or a field drainage tile that both drain into the ditch across the road from our house. That ditch can never hold back a downpour so we get a temporary river of water from these fields running through our yard. I'm completely ok with field runoff. I'm NOT ok with runoff from a facility that houses 4000+ hogs running through my yard & potentially contaminating my well. The next-door neighbors to the east get the same runoff. It then travels through the waterways & drainage tile in the field behind us to the Eel River.”

Eight-eight percent of Indiana’s 92 counties currently have adopted both planning and/or zoning in some form. Of the counties ordinances included in this study (n = 80), 64 zoning ordinances currently contain language specific to CFOs. Counties have the capacity to define specific regulations or standards as they see appropriate, provided these regulations do not interfere with existing state laws or regulations. While there are many intricacies to planning and zoning in Indiana, the zoning provisions and processes typically used to regulate CFOs (e.g., setbacks, buffer distances, etc.) are described below. First, counties designate zoning districts and define the land uses permitted in those districts. Uses can be permitted by right or by special exception (sometimes referred to as a conditional use or special use). Uses permitted by right must adhere to district and use standards or developmental standards as stated in the ordinance, but they are not required to go before the plan commission or board of zoning appeals for approval. Special exceptions allow counties to review the details and site of a particular application to make sure it is compatible with their comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. Special exceptions must go before the board of zoning appeals for approval (IC 36-7-4-918.2). Criteria for considering a special exception are set in the zoning ordinance or by rule of the BZA. Some counties use a general set of criteria while others set criteria specific to the use (ILRC, 2014). When setting criteria for a CFO, some counties may consider factors such as county road conditions, buffers or screening, or whether it is harmonious with neighboring uses. Counties also can create multiple agricultural zones for general agricultural purposes, rural estates, conservation, agribusinesses, or intensive agricultural uses like CFOs. This allows the commission to separate possible conflicting land uses. Often, CFOs are located in a district titled ‘Intensive Agriculture’ or ‘High Impact Use’. The commission may prohibit other uses such as businesses or residences from locating in that district to avoid future land use conflict.”

In 2007 there was a case that came up regarding assessed value of a property located near a confined hog farm, and even back then, the problem was addressed regarding Miami County having no ordinances regarding CAFO hog farms, and the problems that were experienced by citizens living close to the CAFO. Also back then the issue came up regarding the IDEM versus county ordinances, and so even back then Miami County Zoning was made aware of this. Source: https://www.in.gov/ibtr/files/Maiben_52-021-07-1-1-00001.pdf

According to Miami County Ordinances, Concentrated Feed:

“(D) Confinement Feeding operation that has less than ten (10) acres shall have a Special Exception approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals and shall meet the guidelines set forth in tables 2 and 3 of this ordinance. Confinement Feeding Operation that has more than ten (10) acres shall meet the guidelines set forth in table 2 and 3 but shall not require Board’s approval.

“CONFINEMENT FEEDING: shall mean as feeding of animals grown for food, fur, or pleasure purposes in lots, pens, ponds, sheds, or buildings where feed is supplied to them by means other than grazing. For the purpose of this Ordinance, the "Confinement Feeding" shall be limited to the confined feeding of (1) 300 or more cattle; (2) 600 or more swine or sheep, or (3) 30,000 or more fowl. These numbers have been established by P.L. 175, act of the 1971 Indiana General Assembly. In the event that said Act is amended, this ordinance shall be deemed amended so that it is in conformity with said Act. (See restriction 2-13-3F this ordinance)”

Zones A1, A2, & A3, are all CFO/CAFO zoned as “S**”

“(CFO/CAFO) zoning is marked with “S**” meaning:

“SPECIAL EXCEPTION: Means an authorized use that is designated as such by Table 1, as being permitted in the district concerned, if it meets special conditions, and upon application is specifically authorized by the Board of Zoning Appeals. The board may place added restrictions on the property for safety, health, or general welfare of the community.”

“2-7 SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS (A) The Board of Zoning Appeals may permit a Special Exception after a public hearing only in the specified districts indicated in Table One (1) of the primary uses. No permit for a Special Exception shall be granted unless the Board shall have first found that the public convenience and welfare will substantially be served and that the proposed use will not be unduly detrimental to the surrounding area. In the exercise of its approval, the Board may impose, such additional conditions regarding the location, character, and other features of the proposed building or structure or use as it may deem advisable in the furtherance of the proposes of this Ordinance (B) Upon approval for the Special Exception, the Zoning Administrator shall issue an Improvement Location Permit. (C) Upon a finding by the Board that the Special Exception with additional special requirements may be issued, the Board shall order the Zoning Administrator to issue an Improvement Location Permit for the Special Exception, providing the applicant agrees in writing to such additional special requirements. (D) A finding by the Board that the Special Exception is not consistent with the spirit, purpose, or intent of this Ordinance, may substantially or permanently injure the appropriate use of the neighboring property, or will not serve the public convenience or welfare, the Board shall disapprove the Special Exception. (E) The Board may table the application for a Special Exception, and refer it to the Zoning Administrator or committee with a request for further information, review, and recommendations to the Board.

2-7-1 SPECIAL EXCEPTION - EXISTING USES An existing use which is listed herein as a Special Exception and which is located in a district in which such Special Exception may be permitted, is a conforming use, however any expansion of such Special Exception involving the enlargement of the building structure, or the land area devoted to such use, shall be reviewed by the Zoning Administrator for compliance and may be subject to Board procedure described in this section.
2-7-2 SPECIAL EXCEPTION - TIME LIMIT 33 33 In the event that the applicant has failed to commence construction within six (6) months after such permit has been issued, or failed to proceed with construction, once commenced, in accordance with construction time table commonly prevailing in the construction industry, and subject to the Board's discretion as to the reasonableness of construction delays or fails to conform to the provisions of the development plan, and supporting data finally approved by the Board, and upon the basis of which such Improvement Location Permit for the Special Exception was issued. Said Board may upon its motion or upon the written petition of any aggrieved person at a public hearing, require the applicant to show cause why the Board's order should not be withdrew and the Improvement Location Permit for the Special Exception be revoked.

2-7-3 SPECIAL EXCEPTION - APPROVAL A Special Exception shall be an authorized use in a district provided that all requirements can be met and the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that the use will not create an unnecessary hardship or nuisance on the surrounding property. All requirements shall be completed prior to any operation of that use being started. The uses may be permitted as a Special Exception in districts as outlined in Table One (1) of the Primary use Chart. The restrictions in Table Two (2) shall be considered the minimum requirements and the Board may make any other reasonable restrictions they feel is necessary to protect that district. If a use is not listed in Table Two (2) the Board must consider the use and restriction. The Board may place reasonable restrictions on the property to ensure that an unnecessary hardship or nuisance is not created on surrounding property. In granting a Special Exception, the Board shall take into consideration the restrictions outlined in Table Two (2) along with other restrictions in a fair and unbiased decision. (1) The Special Exception will not create an unnecessary hardship on surrounding property. (2) The Special Exception will not devaluate the surrounding property. (3) The Special Exception will not set a precedent for that district.

2-7-4 SPECIAL EXCEPTION REQUIREMENTS All parking requirements shall be in accordance with the parking requirements outlined in section 3-3 of this Ordinance. All Special Exceptions shall conform to the following restrictions: (1) Lights shall be placed in such a way that they do not infringe upon the rights of adjacent property owners. At no time shall any light be placed within ten (10) feet from any property line. (2) Parking areas shall be a minimum of (10) ten feet away from any other residential dwelling and shall be screened where light or noise will not interfere with the comfort of the adjacent property owner. (3) No unsafe, uncomfortable, or offensive vibrations, noise, visual effects, odors, or air pollutants that would cause an unnecessary hazard to health or general welfare of the surrounding area shall be allowed to radiate across lot lines. (4) Any use listed as a Special Exception in Table One (1) shall meet the requirements for Minimum Lot Size, Setbacks, Parking Requirements, Entrances, Exits, fencing, and screening in Table Two (2) of this ordinance. (5) No loading berth may be closer than fifty (50) feet from any residential dwelling. 34 34 (6) All areas, which are used for outside storage, shall be screened or fenced with no less than Six foot woven fence or screen. (8) No more than one entrance or exit shall be authorized with a use unless approved by the board. (9) Buildings within the following areas may be located no closer to exterior roads than distance, in feet, respectively prescribed below: GOLF COURSE 50 FEET INDUSTRIAL PARKS 75 FEET MOBILE HOME PARKS AND TRAVEL TRAILER PARKS 50 FEET OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL PARKS 75 FEET CAMPGROUNDS 50 FEET JUNK YARDS 100 FEET FAIR GROUNDS 100 FEET”

“Farm Confinement Feed Over 10 Acres A6,B7,C9,D3,E4,F2,G1,H3,I14,J1
Farm Confinement Feed Under 10 Acres A1,B7,C9,D3,E4,F2,G1,H3,I14,J1”

Thus in this instance (Over 10 Acres): A6: Minimum Lot Size = 10 Acres, B7: Minimum Setbacks = Front: 150 Rear: 25 Side: 20. C9: Minimum Setback from Residential Dwelling = 1000. D3: Minimum Distance From Residential District = 500 feet. E4: Minimum Distance From Loading Berth to Resident = 1,000 feet. F2: Fence or Screening = 6 feet wire mesh. G1: Maximum Number Entrances from any Street = 1. H3: Minimum Distance from Church, School or Town = 1000. I14: Parking Spaces Required = Adequate for the use. J1: Minimum Distance from Watercourses = 300 Feet.

“(B) Permit and authorize contingent uses and Special Exception subject to, and within the limitations prescribed by the provisions of this Ordinance.”
“(D) In exercising its power, the Board may reverse or affirm, wholly or in part, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, or determination appealed from as in its opinion, ought to be done in the premises; and to that end have all powers of the official, Person or entity from whom or which the appeal is taken. In approving a Special Exception, Contingent Use or Variance. The Board may also impose such reasonable conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed building, structure, or use, with which the appeal or application before it is concerned, as it may deem advisable in the furtherance of the purpose of this Ordinance and the protection of the public convenience and welfare. Such conditions may include a requirement for the recording of a written instrument in a form acceptable to the Board, binding the present and subsequent owners of the parcel of land affected and all parties having an interest therein to the terms of such conditions.”

~Miami County, Indiana Ordinance dealing with CAFO/CFO at

~Wabash County, Indiana Ordinance dealing with CAFO/CFO at https://ag.purdue.edu/Documents/ordinance/Wabash.pdf

List of all Counties CFOs from Purdue Extension:


You can see pending and issued CFO permits at IDEM here: https://www.in.gov/idem/cfo/2329.htm

An interesting article about how CAFOs affect property values: