Officials are one step closer to finalizing regulations on commercial-scale farms in Montgomery County, after the county plan commission selected members for a confined feeding operation study committee Monday.
The plan commission selected 13 members for the committee: four farmers, four rural residents, two realtors, two school officials and one member of the plan commission itself – Ashley Adair.
Adair says her goal is to both research the impact of CFOs and to get community input.
“Some of what’s been going on with the plan commission has been relatively controversial with the community, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to interact,” Adair says, “and make sure that voices are heard from all parts of the county to make sure we get this right.”
Commissioner John Frey says the committee will not be starting from scratch, but instead modifying an ordinance already before the commission.
He says many of the members selected haven’t been formally asked to serve on the committee, but the commission selected locals they believe to be interested.
“I think their feedback and input will be valued, and I think they’d be willing to give that,” Frey says.
Even if some of the selected members say they can’t participate or don’t want to be on the committee, county attorney Dan Taylor says they can still move forward in the process.
“You can appoint alternates, but it’s not as if you have to fill that number,” Taylor says.
The committee members were in part selected for where they live in the county, to make sure a wide geographical area was represented in future discussions.Among the other members of the board are Kelly Shannon, a resident who proposed the study committee at the last plan commission meeting; April Johnson, a member of the group No Wind Farms Montgomery County; and real estate agent Rusty Carter.
The committee must provide its findings before October 23, when the plan commission is scheduled to meet and discuss the proposed CFO ordinance.
The debate around CFOs in Montgomery County began when a farm near the town of Linden requested a permit to open a project with nearly 9,000 hogs. The permit for that project was approved in July, so any regulations adopted by the county wouldn’t apply to it – but the ordinance would apply to any future projects.