The egg-laying dispute and the need for zoning
By Geoff Morton
Published Thursday, February 1, 2018 9:20 am
The battle waged by Edwin Hostetler, the Farm Bureau and Olen Lund against the resident landowner adjacent to the egg laying operation, veterinarian Susan Raymond, has been one-sided and prejudiced in favor of the conservative community in this valley without any consideration for the rights of landowners who also live and work here and have the inherent right to breathe clean air and be protected from industrial activities disrupting their lives and well-being. The important thing to consider is that Susan Raymond has been a longtime resident (30 years) when Hostetler appeared with his industrial egg laying operation (15,000 chickens).
What about her right to farm? According to the Farm Bureau and county commissioner approach, anyone could come along and install commercial, industrial operations in the middle of any residential, agricultural area in this valley without any thought to the impact to the existing residents.
It should be clear to everyone that there is a big difference between agricultural businesses such as cattle, horses, hay, etc. and an operation like Hostetlers' egg laying business because of its size and the associated waste, much of which is removed from the building and expelled into the air via many large exhaust fans. This debris made up of feathers, bacteria, mold, excrement, etc. then becomes part of the air that the surrounding neighbors and animals are forced to breathe. I believe an operation of this scale with its associated pollution is totally inappropriate when it is placed in the middle of an existing residential area and negatively affects the lives of the residents. The judge in the Hostetler/Raymond court case (Judge Patrick) agreed that this egg laying business was incompatible with the neighborhood.
The Farm Bureau solicited a large sum of money to reverse the ruling. I feel their influence in this case was one sided favoring the Hostetlers and was totally inappropriate. The Farm Bureau has used its power to bully and manipulate in support of Hostetler with no regard for the welfare of the residents who had been there years before Hotstetler showed up.
In summation I believe that the farmer should have the right to farm but it is important to keep in mind that the residents of this valley should have an equal right to protection of their environment from industrial, polluting businesses. There are plenty of places in the area for a large operation of this size to be located that is not in the middle of residential and small farm communities. I believe the important lesson in this situation is that the county must separate and zone businesses of this nature as commercial and incompatible in locations where residents and their farms will be negatively impacted. If the county doesn't address these issues soon we could have egg laying operations spread all over the county at the expense of the residents and this attitude will be reflected in the master plan.