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Published: Friday, 3/18/2005

Wood County fears dairy's impact

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - The prospect of a 1,765-head dairy farm in southern Wood County has county commissioners wondering who will foot the bill for the likely damage it could cause to area roads.

In a letter sent to Naomi Dairy LLC yesterday, commissioners said the county engineer estimated it would cost more than $300,000 to bring just one mile of township road up to the standards that would support the daily truck traffic to and from the proposed dairy. "What plans does Naomi Dairy have to provide funding for road improvements on Solether and Bays roads, as well as surrounding roads, in order to address the daily hauling needs of your operation?" the commissioners asked. "These are road repair issues that do not exist today."

Commissioners also asked the dairy owner, Joop Van Rooijen, how he plans to address flooding issues and potential groundwater contamination since the dairy would be in a flood-prone area just west of Jerry City in Portage Township.

Cecilia Conway, spokesman for Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development which is working with the dairy, had not yet seen the letter but said the company would be happy to schedule a meeting with commissioners.

She said the Naomi Dairy was designed and engineered to be flood-proof, and state regulations require that contaminated stormwater remain on site and not be allowed to run off onto neighboring properties.

"All of those aspects have been included into the design of the facility," Ms. Conway said.

Wood County Planning Director Dave Steiner raised the flooding issue in a December letter to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which issues permits for large livestock operations.

Deborah Abbott, spokesman for the department's livestock environmental permitting program, said flooding issues are part of the siting criteria the state considers for dairies.

"Where the manure storage pond is located is a concern," Ms. Abbott said.

The state is reviewing Naomi Dairy's application for permits to build and operate the farm, which Ms. Conway said will cost $5 million to $7 million to develop and will employ 12 to 14 people.

Records with the Wood County Auditor's Office show Naomi Dairy bought nearly 199 acres in Portage Township on Feb. 23 for $594,000.

County Administrator Andrew Kalmar figured trucks going in and out of the dairy would have to travel a half-mile on Solether Road and a mile on Bays Road to get to the four-lane State Rt. 25.

"And that's only isolating the daily hauling route," he said, adding that not all trucks would be headed for the highway. "When it comes to manure distribution, they're not going to get rid of all their manure next door."

The only large dairy in Wood County is the 690-cow Manders Dairy near Weston. The state is reviewing an application from Manders to expand its operation to 1,600 cows.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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