BOWLING GREEN - The Wood County Community Improvement Corp. yesterday voted against issuing $3 million of industrial development bonds to finance manure-handling systems for a large dairy farm in Jackson Township.
The 10-1 decision, with Harold Bateson dissenting, brought whoops and loud applause from the 50-member audience, which included members of Wood County Citizens Opposed to Factory Farms.
Members of the CIC said the group's decision would not stop development of the farm, but they did not think the project qualified for its industrial development bonds.
"For the amount of money that's requested, I don't think you'll bring enough jobs to compensate for a return on this money," member Maxine Cross told the farm developers.
A Belgian family that runs Reyskens Dairy Leasing LLC is planning to build the farm on the north side of Cygnet Road, just east of State Rt. 235. The firm has permits allowing up to 925 cows, but hopes to get additional permits and have 1,800 cows at the site.
The CIC can issue bonds to finance economic development projects, giving companies access to low interest rates in exchange for job creation and boosts to the county's tax base.
The new dairy farm would create 12 jobs with an annual payroll of $500,000, developers said. But CIC members said that payroll estimate seemed too high.
Developers said the farm also would benefit the local economy by purchasing crops from local farms, selling milk to local milk processing companies, and employing local veterinarians.
Members of the CIC questioned the environmental impact of the farm and whether industrial development bonds should be issued for an agricultural business that would not make a product for sale to consumers.
"We traditionally approve applications for businesses that manufacture a product," county Commissioner Tim Brown said.
Mr. Bateson said agriculture is a major industry and should be considered for financing.
Mr. Bateson, a farmer and former Wood County auditor, sells feed to the only large-scale dairy currently operating in Wood County, Manders Dairy near Weston. Manders also applies manure from the dairy on the fields Mr. Bateson and his sons own.
"I hope that we can have more agricultural applications in some form," he said. "If there's a need for assistance in agriculture, I think we should give it every bit of consideration."
The CIC agreed yesterday to issue bonds for two Bowling Green businesses.
The group will issue $7.2 million in bonds to finance a building expansion and new equipment purchases for Rosenboom Machine and Tool, which purchased the former Green Manufacturing Inc. The company plans to add 130 employees.
The CIC also will issue just over $4 million in bonds to finance new equipment for Wood County Bandag LLC, a tire retreading business that plans to expand its operations and hire an additional 10 to 16 skilled workers over the next few years.
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