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County changes CAFO rules

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Farmers might experience some trouble when proposing Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Wabash County in the future now that local regulations have changed.

CAFOs are large scale agricultural operations that house and raise livestock at high densities.

Wabash County Commissioners approved amendments to the local CAFO ordinance that Vice-Chairman Jeff Dawes calls a “happy medium.”

Residents had gone to the planning commission months ago with concerns about setbacks, the minimum distance separating a CAFO from a designated area, in the ordinance several months ago.

Previous setbacks, dating back to 2007, stated that CAFO must be 1,320 feet from any designated area, with the exception of public wells, reservoirs and schools, which had setbacks of 2,640 feet.

These operations are not new to Wabash County, but two CAFO permits have been submitted in 2019, raising more awareness to concerned homeowners.

Dawes said that while CAFOs bring in a lot of tax dollars, a little over $1 million, there are some drawbacks for residents.

“You’re always going to have odors. People also worry about the quality of their water supplies,” Dawes said.

In order to address those concerns, the plan commission proposed that setbacks from unincorporated towns like Urbana be expanded from 1,320 to 2,640 feet.

The commission also proposed that the setback from public water supplies be 1,00 feet and include on-site wells.

The commissioners approved the proposed amendments, creating a compromise Dawes said he was quite confident in.

“This is huge for everyone’s health and we’re very happy about that,” said David Wamsley, an audience member.

At the meeting, County Auditor Marcie Shepherd stated that as of July 1, the auditor endorsement fee would increase to $10.

County Highway Superintendent John Martin was at the meeting to present the annual covered bridge certification, which lets the county receive maintenance funds for covered bridges.

Sheriff Ryan Baker reported the weekly jail count with 121 as the average daily population and 21 new bookings.

He also presented the leases for two new vehicles.

County Coordinator Jim Dils stated that someone requested to use the Roann Covered Bridge, located at 6000 Roann Lukens Lake Road, for a wedding next May.

Dils also requested approval to sign a contract with Republic Services for trash removal and recycling.