The August 27 Clay County Commission hearing regarding Chairman Travis Mockler’s permit for a dual animal feeding operation was a travesty. Public input was strictly limited, and there was no opportunity to refute untrue statements. The commission, acting as the Board of Adjustment, approved an unregulated large Animal Feeding Operation with thousands of cattle and hogs in an environmentally-sensitive spot above the Vermillion River floodplain.

Among the issues the appellants—the Living River Group of the Sierra Club—was not permitted to respond to was the false assertion that both Mr. Mockler and the Sierra Club missed deadlines. I personally took the appeal letter to Zoning Administrator’s Cindy Aden on April 1. On April 2 Ms. Aden emailed that since the permit was under review by the State’s Attorney, the 5 day appeal window had not begun. She suggested that I resubmit the letter with my contact information when the decision document was signed. I left the original letter with her and resubmitted the appeal with contact information on May 6, after the document was signed, and well before the appeal deadline.

By contrast, Mr. Mockler submitted required information three days past the deadline imposed by fellow commissioners at the July 30 hearing—continuing a pattern of incomplete information submitted in an untimely fashion. But the state’s attorney suggested the Board should overlook Mr. Mockler’s lateness, falsely asserting that the Sierra Club’s submission was also late. We actually submitted our letter twice—and before deadline. The reasons for our appeal that I read at the June 11 hearing were simply an elaboration of the original letter.

This is one of many irregularities that have occurred throughout the process of this AFO/CAFO dispute. It seems to me that the Clay County Commissioners, acting as the Board of Adjustment, have always intended to approve the chairman’s animal feeding operation, no matter the environmental cost. I hope the citizens of Clay County will remember this in the voting booth next November.

Susanne Skyrm

Co-Chair, Living River Group, Sierra Club

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