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Hearing on CAFO near Blue Ridge postponed

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

Oct. 23 is the new date scheduled for a hearing before the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals regarding a CAFO to be located not far from the small Shelby County community of Blue Ridge.

A hearing that was to take place on Tuesday in Rush County was postponed, according to the county’s planning office.

CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. Sometimes called “factory farms,” they pack a large number of animals into small, indoor areas.

The CAFO planned for Rush County would house up to 11,000 hogs, according to documents filed with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

IDEM has approved a 5-year permit for the facility for developer, Todd McDaniel of Waldron.

It is to be located a few miles from the small community of Blue Ridge in eastern Shelby County, just over the county line at State Road 244 and County Road South 800 East in Rush County. 

Some Blue Ridge residents oppose the plan, fearing waste from the CAFO will contaminate their well water, and they’re concerned about air quality, including odors from the facility.

A “Manure Land Use Agreement” filed with IDEM, signed by Todd McDaniel and Michael McDaniel, states that Todd may put manure on property owned by Michael and Cynthia McDaniel in Shelby County.

The McDaniels own large tracts of farmland directly south of Blue Ridge, extending to SR 244.

Documents available on IDEM’s website in its “Virtual File Cabinet” include responses to numerous citizen comments and questions about the CAFO proposal.

IDEM’s written responses state that there are detailed guidelines and inspection requirements for building a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, as well as rules about applying manure as fertilizer to farm fields.

For example, IDEM states that “all manure and wastewater generated ... must be collected and stored until land applied.”

Neither the state, nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency, have regulations about reducing pathogens that may be in the animal waste, however most disease-carrying organisms don’t survive more than 30 days of anaerobic waste storage, IDEM notes.

There are no federal or state rules regarding odors produced by CAFO operations, and IDEM has no jurisdiction over things like zoning or the impact on property values, the agency states. 

Rush County’s zoning board is due to take up the matter of building the new facility at a hearing beginning at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23.

The meeting room is in the Rush County Court House, 101 E. Second St., in Rushville.