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DEQ may decide Butler Co. hog farm permit this week
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DEQ may decide Butler Co. hog farm permit this week

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COLUMBUS — A final decision on whether the state Department of Environmental Quality will issue a permit to build and operate two hog confinement facilities in northwest Butler County could come as early as this week.

DEQ technical staff is currently reviewing additional information the agency requested from Pillen Family Farms of Columbus, which has proposed the hog production sites east of Bellwood and southwest of Brandenburgh Lakes.

"We'll complete the review maybe by this week if we receive all the information we requested and make a decision (on the permit)," said Dennis Heitmann, supervisor of the agency's ag division.

However, Heitmann said there is no firm deadline for a decision.

The additional information sought by the DEQ was sparked by questions from agency staff and concerns raised by neighbors of the proposed production facilities during a recently completed public comment period.

Butler County officials have no zoning authority.

The additional information was directed at addressing the public concerns regarding the projects, Heitmann said.

Settje Agri-Services and Engineering of Raymond, the designer of both proposed sites, provided the DEQ with the additional information.

One project site, Hough Nursery, is located east of Bellwood. It would house up to 12,000 nursery swine less than 55 pounds.

Two other options for that site are to house up to 6,000 finishing swine greater than 55 pounds and up to 6,000 nursery swine in half of the building and up to 3,000 finishing swine in the other half.

The second project is the Danbred Performance Research Center northwest of Bellwood. The main purpose of the project is boar research. The proposed research center would include a nursery, finishing building, holding/transfer building and office buildings.

The DEQ received letters of comment from dozens of people, most expressing fears about pollution of the water table and seasonal wetlands, manure application to fields and nuisance odor problems.

The information provided by Settje Agri-Services and Engineering included a more detailed history of wetlands in the area, more historical water depths for area water wells that prompted facility design changes and removal of mortality burial plans to be substituted by reliance solely on a rendering service at the sites.

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