The number of empty seats at Monday's public hearing in the Union County Board of Supervisors boardroom gave a stronger message than the one representative speaking for expanding a swine facility and the one in opposition.
Supervisors voted 2-0 to recommend the construction application for Mike Taylor's expanding swine facility in section 33 of New Hope Township near Lorimor in Union County. The proposed building is a new 2,480 head deep pit swine finisher confinement building.
Supervisors Dennis Brown and Ron Riley said their evaluation of the site scored a 470 on the master matrix — above the passing mark of 440 — and voted for the expansion of the facility.
"Until the legislature and the people above us come up with a different plan with more stringent rules, we will follow these rules," Riley said. "Right now we have the master matrix and that is what we use and deal with right now."
Kent Krause, a representative for Pinnacle, gave the details of the expanding facility. Taylor was unable to be present because of a time share vacation he purchased for his family at a fundraiser in December 2013.
The manure maintenance plan has more than 1,300 acres for the estimated 1.2 million gallons of manure that could be produced from the expanded site.
Krause said 1,300 acres has the capacity to hold 2.5 million gallons of manure. He added that Taylor wanted to make sure he had plenty of options in his manure management plan.
"It was in case someone did not have their crops out in time," Krause said. "It will be a first harvested, first served basis."
Supervisor Lois Monday was unable to attended the vote because of a death in the family. She did submitt a written letter to the Union County Auditor's office.
"I have drove out to the property unannounced and the stench from the facility brought tears to my eyes from what smelled like dead hog bodies decomposing," Monday said in her letter. "I have compassion for the citizens who are opposed to this project. On the other hand, I also have compassion for the farmers who earn their living raising hogs."
She added if she was present, her vote would have been against the expansion.
Karon Finn, a Union County resident, spoke out against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
She agreed the site is in a rural area further away from neighboring houses, but expressed concerns about the narrow road, smell and potential water pollution.
"The reason there is not anyone here — because I did call — is because people have given up," Finn said. "They are so upset that they are not represented. If you deny a CAFO, they can come back the next day and reapply. These people are tired."
The Supervisor's recommendation will now go to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the final approval of the construction application.