April 10th, 2014 News

April 10th, 2014

Recent CAFO Developments

As many of you know, there have been recent developments regarding the CAFO. This has resulted in a fair amount of speculation and rumor about what may or may not occur going forward, as well as what the status of the matter is in general. For that reason it is appropriate to summarize the status and clarify the matter to avoid any misunderstanding.

To recap, there are actually two separate proceedings pending regarding the application for the confined feed operation. One is at the state government level which involves the permits granted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management ("IDEM"). The other is the Steuben County land use process where the applicant, Mr. Werner, is required to obtain a special use exception in order to operate a CAFO.

IDEM/State Government Matter:

After IDEM granted the CAFO permit, a group of property owners on Lake Gage, Crooked Lake and Pine Canyon Lake collectively filed an appeal as plaintiffs challenging the issuance of the permit. SLEC is supportive of this effort and willing to assist this group as we can.

Recently, a pretrial conference of attorneys was held at the state government complex in Indianapolis where the administrative law judge presided and the plaintiffs, as well as Mr. Werner, were represented by counsel. The outcome of the pretrial conference was that an order was issued that the parties mediate the case, in other words that the parties conduct a settlement conference, within 6 months. Mediation is a process where the parties are assisted by a neutral third-party mediator in an effort to reach a settlement of the dispute. If mediation does not result in a settlement then another conference will likely be set for the purpose of setting a schedule for the rest of the case.

The remainder of the case at the IDEM level could occupy several months to several years. Ultimately, a trial will be conducted and the decision rendered by the administrative law judge may be appealed to the state trial courts and then follow the appeal process as far up potentially as the United States Supreme Court. To say the least, this process could take several years

The Local Land Use Case:

As you are probably aware, this was set for hearing before the plan commission and the board of zoning appeals for dates this month. However, Mr. Werner and his attorney withdrew the petition. This does not mean that the case is over. The petition can be refiled. There is no time limit on when it can be re-filed.

It is important to refrain from engaging in speculation or passing along rumors. This is not helpful to the effort to defeat the application. To be as clear as possible, there is nothing more that can be said other than the zoning application was withdrawn, at least for the moment.

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