MARIETTA TOWNSHIP - The Marietta Township Board took the first step toward imposing a one-year moratorium on a proposed 10,000 animal unit confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) on Harvest Lane when it met Monday. The move came after AV Roth of Roth Feeder Pigs explained the proposed operation during a special meeting the week before on July 15.
“We must post the meeting for two weeks in the Dial before (the board) can vote on a moratorium,” town clerk Clifford Monroe told about two dozen town residents. “An August 5thspecial meeting is the earliest we could do it. That’s the earliest they could make a decision.”
Like the July 15 special meeting, Monday night’s regular monthly meeting began with neighbors expressing concern over the project, its size, and possible implications to property values and the environment.
“This has all happened so fast and no one knew about it,” said Dave Collins, who lives next door to the proposed CAFO. “This has implications for land values, water, geology. There’s so much analysis that needs to be done. This land is precious and it needs to be protected. The Roths have been planning this for two years, but most of us have just heard about it.”
Another neighbor, Deanna Shimpach, expressed concerns over taxes and road repairs, as well as water and air quality. “It came out of the blue,” she said. “You hate to tell another farmer how to farm, but this affects all of us.”
Collins said he had nothing against farmers, but this was something different.
“We’re surrounded by farms,” he said. “That’s not the issue. This is an industrial operation.”
At last week’s meeting, several residents expressed concern over the proposed CAFO’s ridgetop location, with both groundwater and potential foul odors drifting down into the valleys below.
“I think everyone would like to see this in the valley rather than on the ridge,” said Town Chairman Teddy Beinborn. “It was all sprung on us like it was sprung on you guys. It’s going to be a major deal for everybody.”
A farmer in the audience who has lived in Marietta Township his whole life lamented the changing agricultural landscape and said it’s time to look toward the future.
“Crawford County used to have 1,200 dairy farms, now it’s down to 70 or 75. I don’t think there are any in Wauzeka Township,” he said. “Us people, old timers and newcomers, care about this area. We want to have an environmentally safe place to live. Eco-tourism is taking off here. Let’s take advantage of what this area is really good for. The economic opportunity in this area is the beauty.”
Another neighbor said the time to act is now.
“My point is, if this goes in it’s just the tip of an iceberg coming in,” he said. “To me, this is amazing how quickly this thing has come in, and you can stop it tonight, right now,” he told the board. “A moratorium is a way to protect us from something we don’t know anything about.”
Many people expressed concern over ground, surface and other water issues associated with the area’s sensitive karst geology, which features porous, limestone bedrock.
“Groundwater could be affected a lot more than the people right here,” said one woman. “We need to air on the side of caution. He’s going to need a lot of water, and will probably have to drill a high capacity well. That’s going to affect all of us.”
“I would suggest you all get your wells tested, now,” Shimpach said.
Since the only thing on the posted agenda regarding the issue was discussion regarding “Civilian Planning Commission for the Possible Roth Feeder Pig Operation on Harvest Lane,” a vote on a possible moratorium was not legally possible. However, supervisors appeared open to the idea.
“I don’t have a problem passing a moratorium so we can get more information,” Beinborn said.
Clerk Monroe said he would post the meeting for the next two weeks and the board would convene on Monday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue.
“They can’t vote tonight. We have to post it,” he said.However, they could act on the civilian commission and did, naming several township resident volunteers to the commission, including Kat Tigerman, Sandy Collins and Merideth Sime.