The time has come.
Now that permits for his two 5,000-head hog confinements are approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mike Taylor of Taylor Family Farms is asking county officials to improve the roadways near the hog confinements — specifically Ivy Avenue.
Monday, the board told Taylor in order to upgrade Ivy Avenue from a level B to level A roadway he will need to fill out a petition with County Engineer Steve Akes.
“A petition is the way to go (for the county) because it takes out all the gray areas,” Akes said. “It leaves no room for confusion. To upgrade it from a B to an A, Mr. Taylor will need signatures from 75 percent of owners whose land touches Ivy Avenue.”
If Taylor gathers 75 percent of the signatures and the petition is approved, Akes will design an improved roadway and give Taylor and county officials the actual cost of improving the roadway.
Akes’ most recent estimate “to fix the road correctly” would cost about $200,000 and include widening the roadway, adding a Macadam stone base and drainage system.
Akes told Taylor the county must fix this road correctly because, if it is not, heavy truck traffic will damage the roadway leaving the county with a lot of maintenance costs over the next 25 years or more.
Riley said, pending approval of the petition, he plans to stick to board policy whereby the county would split the cost of the roadway with Taylor 50/50. However, Riley and board members Lois Monday and Dennis Brown agreed they do not have a timeline for improving Ivy Avenue because there are a lot of other construction projects in the county that were on the list for improvements before Ivy Avenue.
“A lot of this is going to boil down to, do we have the money in our budget to spend an extra $100,000 for this project?” Riley said. “I hate to take money off of another project that people (in this county) have been waiting for for two, three or five years for us to get done.”
The hog confinements have been a topic of controversy in Union County, especially for the people who live near the hog confinements. About 20 of those people in opposition of the confinements were in attendance Monday — many of which live on Ivy Avenue. They sat directly behind Taylor and listened to his entire 60-minute conversation with the supervisors.
Taylor was invited by the board to come back at another meeting to continue discussion about road improvements on Ivy Avenue near his hog confinements.