The Missouri Clean Water Commission yesterday made official, it’s decision to overturn an operating permit for Trenton Farms Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation proposed for the Hickory area of rural Grundy County.
The commission last Wednesday voted four to two, over-ruling the Department of Natural Resources decision in granting the permit. That followed a two-hour plus hearing in Jefferson City regarding an appeal filed by a local organization called Hickory Neighbors United which expressed opposition to the proposed hog farm.
In its summary available online at the Missouri Clean Water Commission website, the final decision determined DNR failed to meet its burden of proving the operating permit was issued in accordance with current law. Concerns were cited regarding the target area being in a 100-year flood plain and questioning the state regulation whether a permanent organization exists that serves as quote “continuing authority” for the operation, maintenance, and modernization of the facility (CAFO) for which the application was made.
Last August, Hickory Neighbors filed an appeal, challenging the DNR issued permit. That appeal was the subject of an Administrative Hearing Commission meeting in October. And then that organization, in December, made a recommendation for the Clean Water Commission to sustain the permit.
The website also includes video of last weeks’ Clean Water Commission meeting including presentations and testimony from three attorneys.
Tim Dugan represented the attorney generals’ office after being assigned to defend the DNR decision once the appeal was made. Steven Jeffrey spoke on behalf of Hickory Neighbors United. And Robert Brundage represented Trenton Farms.
Brundage was once assistant general counsel for environmental affairs for the company previously-known as Premium Standard Farms.
At the end of the presentations, questions, and answers, a motion was made for the Clean Water Commission to sustain the state permit for Trenton Farms.
But four members voted “no.” One of the Clean Water Commission members voting against Trenton Farms was Buddy Bennett – a former director of Trenton
Municipal Utilities. It was a roll call vote. The count stood two in favor and three opposed when Bennett cast the fourth and final “nay” vote. Other Clean Water Commissioners voting no were Todd Parnell of Springfield, Dennis Wood of Kimberling City, and Wallis Warren of Beaufort.
Voting in favor of sustaining the permit were Ashley McCarty of Novinger and John Cowheard of Mount Vernon. The seventh member of the commission, Samuel Leake of Perry, was absent.
Buddy Bennett, now of Oak Grove, was elected chairman of the clean water commission. He received the state appointment in 2012. Now retired, his background includes experience with municipal utilities and waste water systems.