Hog confinement proposed near Lima subject of public meeting Monday

Posted: Mar. 1, 2013 11:23 pm Updated: Mar. 16, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

An Adams County farmer has submitted plans to the Illinois Department of Agriculture to build a hog confinement facility 1.9 miles southwest of Lima that would house 4,960 hogs, raising concerns from some nearby landowners.

Owner Daron Duke, along with business partner and nephew Brock Brackensick, has proposed building a 561-by-71 foot finishing building. Waste from the hogs would be stored in a pit underneath the building.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will hold a public hearing at the request of the Adams County Board at 6 p.m. Monday in the Adams County Courthouse, 507 Vermont.

After the meeting, the County Board will have 30 business days to make a non-binding recommendation to the Department of Agriculture, which will then have 15 calendar days to approve, deny or ask for additional information.

"This public information meeting is the beginning of a process where information is gathered about the proposal, and the department takes that information into consideration when it makes a determination about the project," said Jeff Squibb, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture. "The goal of the whole process is to make sure livestock facilities are built on suitable sites."

Duke said the facility will enable him and Brackensick to grow their business. They currently raise livestock.

"We've spoken to numerous neighbors that are in favor of the project and have no objections, and we have spoken to neighbors who do have concerns," Duke said. "We're going to be the best neighbors we can be with the new venture.

"We know there is a need to produce more food for the growing population and ... are looking to grow our business with today's rising values of farmland and machinery."

Some nearby landowners oppose the project.

Judith Koehler, an attorney who lives in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, owns land across the road from the proposed site. After speaking with an land appraiser, she is concerned the proposed facility will lower the value of her property, which includes a 20-acre home site that is within 500 feet of the CAFO.

"If that permit is granted, then that would reduce the value of my property by 50 percent at least, and could reduce it to zero in that you couldn't sell it, because of the odor, the noise and the traffic that would be coming in there," she said.

Koehler -- the fourth generation in her family to have owned the land -- grew up the one mile north of the site and said she hopes to build a cabin on the home site. Farm buildings were destroyed by a 2003 tornado.

She also voiced concerns about the environmental impact.

"The hog confinement is being proposed to be built in a low place that is surrounded by hills on the north, the west and the south," she said. "And the water, when we have a downpour, would run off to the hog confinement."

Koehler believes the water would run into the facility and contaminate the nearby stream, which feeds into other creeks.

"I have no objection to people have hogs in those A-frame houses where they are sometimes kept, but what you are talking about with a hog confinement is almost 10,000 hogs a year," she said.

Tom Leeper lives next door to Duke 1.5 miles north of the proposed site. He has concerns about the odor, increased traffic and potential water containment, and already has express those to Duke.

Leeper said residents have only recently learned about the plans.

"As a matter of a fact, the (village) board of Lima has not even had time to meet since we found out about it," he said.

Duke hopes to alleviate those concerns Monday night.

"We're not out-of-town coming in here," he said. "I want my children to enjoy the same benefits that I have and the quality of life that comes with production agriculture.

"In our operation, we are going to follow the best practices for the pork industry and the best agronomy practices out there for handling that type of fertilizer, which is a value and a product for us in our crop operation."

If approved by the Department of Agriculture, Duke hopes to move forward with the project as soon as possible.