Group drops CAFO appeal
CLEVELAND TOWNSHIP - Residents living in the R2 Residential Medium Density District fighting against proposed chicken barns will no longer appeal the zoning hearing board's approval due to the excessive costs they will incur if they continue.
In response, Joel and Sarah Knoebel, the couple planning to build the barns, have dropped the lawsuit against the 57 residents and will no longer be seeking a $151,100 bond from them, said attorney Joseph C. Michetti, who is representing the residents.
Thomas Lucid, of 24 Wynn School Road, who has been leading the charge with his wife, Johanna, to prevent any Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the district, said Monday the lack of appeals doesn't mean he and the other residents are done fighting.
"We're not quitting on this thing. If it involves legal measures, we'll consider it," he said.
He doesn't expect any movement from Knoebel in relation to building the barns until next year.
The Knoebels, of 110 Center School Road, are the owners of Cleveland Pork, a five-year-old pork producing operation contracted with County View Family Farms, Middletown.
They were given permits to build two 43-by-500-foot poultry barns along Wynn School Road on part of a 76-acre tract of land in February, but the residents appealed their permits in March, saying building a CAFO would be detrimental to their health, quality of life and property value.
If the Knoebels build their barns, Lucid said he would be forced to moved because of his health.
"We're trying to live peacefully here and enjoy our retirement. I can't stay here," he said.
However, the Knoebels say the zoning process has cost them income and the ability to expand their agriculture business, and call the residents' case "frivolous," because the property is in a R2 Residential Medium District zone, which allows for conditional use of agriculture and horticulture.
Knoebel did not return a call Monday or Tuesday for comment.
Lucid is critical of the township zoning hearing board, saying they are not concerned with maintaining quality of life, water sources and air.
Last month, Columbia County Judge Gary E. Norton ordered Michetti and attorney Lloyd Hampton, who is representing the Knoebel, to transcribe testimony from the zoning hearing board meeting to be entered into the record for the appeals process by July 8.
Since Knoebel dropped the suit, the case is no longer moving forward.
The six-figure bond was determined by how much the barns could make Knoebel and how much he is losing from not selling chicken manure. The bond also takes into account increased costs, attorney fees and miscellaneous and incidental costs, including lost interest.
The Knoebels already operate two CAFOs on their 600 acres of property in the region: a 4,500-pig farm located on their home property, approximately three miles east of the R2 District, which is operated under Cleveland Pork; and a 2,200-pig farm located in Irish Valley, operated under the name RK Farms Inc.
Since last year
The battle began in April 2012 when the Knoebels spread manure on farmland surrounding Wynn School, Middle and Polk roads. Residents complained about the "overwhelming" stench and expressed concerns about their health.
Residents have been pushing for the Cleveland Township supervisors to pass an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would limit large-scale animal farms in a residential district. It would ban against a CAFO from exceeding 100 livestock animals within 500 yards of a residential dwelling in the R2 district.