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Wednesday, March 19, 2008 05:34 am

Squeal appeal

Court rules in favor of controversial hog farm

Untitled Document Bob and Sandy Young are happy as pigs in . . . muck. The Buckhart couple this week learned that the Appellate Court of Illinois had ruled in favor of their plan to expand their family dairy farm into factory-scale hog-fattening facility despite strenuous objections from their neighbors. The Youngs were in the early phase of construction (digging a 224,000-cubic-foot pit to hold pig poop) when a lawsuit filed by area residents calling themselves the Rochester Buckhart Action Group won a preliminary injunction halting progress on the concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, [see Dusty Rhodes, “Raising a stink,” May 17]. The Youngs appealed and persuaded two of the three justices on the higher court panel to allow their pork-chop project to proceed. Writing for himself and Justice Thomas R. Appleton, Justice John W. Turner explained that the conflict turned on whether their proposed 3,750-hog confinement barn constituted an expansion or a new facility, because new operations face more hurdles for approval. Turner noted that the Youngs had raised pigs previously and demolished a 2,300-hog facility in 2004.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Robert W. Cook cited the fine differences between “new” and “expansion,” noted that the decision came down to the opinion of one state employee, and suggested the more relevant question was whether the legislature intended large-scale facilities such as the Youngs’ to be subjected to stricter requirements: “The fact that property was used many years ago to house large numbers of animals does not mean the owner gets a ‘free pass,’ that every future project will now be labeled just an ‘expansion.’ ”

Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
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