Supervisors score CAFO proposal
Jefferson County Board of Supervisors set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the second-floor courtroom at Jefferson County Courthouse about KK Finisher Site’s construction permit application for a confinement feeding operation.
Ryan Robertson’s construction permit application would add 1,476 swine to his 2,200-head operation north of Pleasant Plain.
Monday, the board reviewed the required Master Matrix filed with the application. County supervisors score the Master Matrix and base a recommendation about the proposed facility to the Department of Natural Resources.
DNR’s website defines the matrix: “The Master Matrix is a scoring system that can be used to evaluate the siting of permitted confinement feeding operations. ”Producers in counties that have adopted the matrix must meet higher standards than other permitted facilities. Before they can be approved for construction, they must earn points on the Master Matrix for choosing sites and using practices that reduce adverse impacts on the environment and the community. Producers must have 50 percent — or 440 points minimum — of the total score and at least 25 percent of the available points in each of the three subcategories of air, water and community impacts to pass the Master Matrix.”
A year ago, Robertson’s KK Finisher applied for a permit to expand at the same site, 1031 Quince Ave., in Penn Township, and twice failed to meet the minimum 440 points out of a total of 880 on the master matrix.
The proposal now is to build “one new 1,200-head deep-pit swine finisher barn at an existing confinement facility.”
The “animal unit capacity of the operation after expansion will be 1,476 animal units for a total of 3,690 head of swine finishers.”
The Master Matrix submitted by KK Finisher also included an aerial view, such as a satellite Google photo printed off a computer, of the land and some narrative. Attending the matrix scoring were the three supervisors, County Engineer Scott Cline, Diane Rosenberg, executive director of Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors Inc. and a few citizens, but no one representing KK Finisher.
One scoring area on the matrix supervisors questioned Monday was a stipulation about distance separating the proposed confinement structure and any public use area. The minimum requirement is 2,500 feet; points are awarded in increments of five for any additional distance.
KK Finishers took the maximum 30 points in this category, which requires 1,251-1,500 feet distance above the minimum.
“This says he’s 4,000 feet away from public use areas, but one of the definitions of public areas is cemeteries, and there’s no way he’s 4,000 feet away from the cemetery,” said supervisor chairman Steve Burgmeier.
Burgmeier said points in this category should be 15 or 20, not the 30 stated.
KK Finisher submitted the Master Matrix meeting the minimum of 440 points. Any deduction automatically means it doesn’t score high enough to pass.
Supervisors continued reviewing the matrix, and found a few more categories they disagreed with the points KK Finisher had taken. They were frustrated with the aerial view of the site because only a few of the distances were marked.
“Items two through 10 [on master matrix] include measurements that [KK Finisher] say refer to site map,” said Cline. “But the map [aerial view] doesn’t show all the measurements. We can’t verify the measurements are correct.
Cline said he had used Geographic Information Systems to measure the items in the matrix. GIS is a mapping software computer program that can analyze and display geographic forms.
Burgmeier said Cline should drive out and physically survey the measurements.
Rosenberg questioned the requirement to include an emergency action plan with the application.
“Here’s a page with phone numbers, but I don’t see any plan,” she said. “It’s just a list of contacts.”
KK Finisher had awarded itself 5 points for a plan.
“I agree, I don’t see a plan,” said Burgmeier. “He took points for at least three different plans requested to be a part of the application, and I don’t see any plans.”
Burgmeier made a conference call to Brian Ritland, director of agronomic services with Pinnacle, who Robertson hired to compile and guide the matrix through the process.
After Burgmeier explained the discrepancy in distances regarding the cemetery proximity to the proposed confinement facility, Ritland asked the supervisors when they would make a site visit.
“If the matrix doesn’t have the minimum points to pass, we won’t be making a site visit,” said Burgmeier.
Ritland said he would review the scoring and make up the points’ difference in another category.
“It’s not officially scored,” said Burgmeier. “But this application also is missing the required plans such as planting three rows of trees and shrubs that include fast and slow-growing types.
“A design of the whole operations and a maintenance plan should be a document, not a photo indicating where trees will go, that doesn’t tell me how many trees or what type of trees,” said Burgmeier.
Ritland said the application includes a summary with support and explanations for each category of points.
“We’ve answered all the questions and each question has documentation,” said Ritland. “We’ve done what the code requires. We can provide more detail if that’s what you want.”
Burgmeier said he would like the plans — for an emergency, for maintenance, for closure — “that a lay person can view and understand. I shouldn’t have to hunt through pages and pages to find a list of contact numbers, and that’s called the plan. I want to see a document of each plan. The plans must be included in the construction permit application.”
Ritland said he could meet with the owner and add details, “as long as it still meets state requirements.”
Burgmeier told him he’d been reluctant to keep scoring the matrix past the second item regarding distances separating the facility and public use areas.
“Either we move forward to address these issues or you score it as failed and we go back and find other points — or we pull it,” said Ritland.
He asked the supervisors’ questions and concerns to be emailed to him.
Supervisor Dick Reed said the board would not have a motion to pass or fail the matrix until the public hearing.
“I’d prefer you withdraw this and re-submit,” Burgmeier told Ritland. “Last time, this had amendments handed to us so soon before the public hearing we didn’t get a chance to go through it. I don’t want that to happen again.”
Rosenberg asked the supervisors after the phone call if Robertson “wants to go with an amendment,” what happens?
“If there’s not enough time to review it and let the public view the plans, we’ll just fail it at the public hearing,” said Reed.