FAIRBURY – Some tensions ran high during a public forum held on Monday night. No final decisions were made during the forum, but local residents and neighbors were able to speak on their concerns regarding the planning and zoning regulations on hog confinement facilities throughout Jefferson County. The meeting ran for nearly two hours.
The county commissioners, as well as Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Administrator John McKee, took questions. Members of the Planning and Zoning Committee were also in attendance.
John McKee, “Tonight’s input from ideas that you might have, that you think should work, we have to take those to our planners, we have to take those to the state.”
While some residents suggested revising some of the regulations to more “black and white” terms and verbiage, one resident suggested that Jefferson County not be an “Livestock Friendly County” entirely.
Concerned resident, “No, this was the first step for big confinement operations, whatever they are going to be, to come in. How do we get away from that?”
John McKee, “That, I cannot tell you.”
Concerned resident, “Commissioners? You don’t know? Or you don’t want to say?”
Commissioner Michael T. Dux, “These rules that John said – we started this process in the year 2000 and at all the meetings in the beginning of 2000, I was there, Gale (Pohlmann – County Commissioner) was a member of the first Planning and Zoning Board. I know we went to Plymouth, I believe we went to Daykin, I know we went to Diller, we came to Fairbury and there was a lot of people who came to the initial meetings. But then after everything was set up, nobody has come to anything until it’s come into their backyard. Nobody was really interested.”
Later on in the forum…
Commissioner Gale Pohlmann, “To try and address the ‘Livestock Friendly.’ This program was started at the state level by the Farm Bureau. They have worked with counties throughout the state to promote agriculture. We are an agriculture state, we are an agriculture county, and not only Jefferson County – but Gage County, Saline County, all of them are ‘Livestock Friendly’ counties.”
County Commissioners and McKee stated several times throughout the meeting that anyone can request to join the Planning and Zoning Committee.
John McKee, “The door is open to anyone to give their name to the County Board.”
Commissioner Michael T. Dux, “I believe that anyone that has ever volunteered to be on the Planning and Zoning Committee has been appointed, as long as there was an opening.”