Appeal hearing to be held on CAFO

Thursday, January 8, 2009

After almost two years, a group opposed to the construction and operation of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) near Roaring River State Park will get the opportunity to argue their case during an appeal hearing before the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission.

The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. this Thursday, Jan. 8 in Jefferson City. Roaring River Parks Alliance is the group that was officially formed to oppose the CAFO, which is operated by Michelle and Rodney Ozbun on property the Ozbun family owns on Highway 86 west of the state park.

The Ozbuns received a permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to construct a 65,000-capacity pullet operation on their farm in March of 2007. DNR then issued an operating permit five months later in August of 2007.

Appeals were filed against both permits, and Roaring River Parks Alliance officials say they have been waiting for a hearing date ever since.

The group, which is made up of over 50 individuals, is appealing the permits because its members believe run-off from the Ozbun CAFO has the potential to contaminate Roaring River and Table Rock Lake. Alliance members also believe the operation will have a negative affect on air quality, and ultimately, tourism.

The Ozbuns, who are represented by the Jefferson City law firm of Schreimann, Rackers, Francka and Blunt, have stated in the past that they have followed all DNR guidelines and are operating a permitted "no-discharge" system. Waste from the operation is stored until it can be properly land applied.

The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission is a nonpartisan court-like entity that exists to resolve conflicts involving permits and other contested issues in the state. The Administrative Hearing Commission presents its decisions to the Missouri Clean Water Commission in the form of recommendations, which are formally acted upon by Commission members.

According to Ranada Vinyard, a staff attorney with the Administrative Hearing Commission, it will be the Missouri Clean Water Commission that makes the final decision on the group's appeal.

This week's hearing is expected to last two days.

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