Thursday, November 16, 2006

The CAFO Meeting You Do NOT Want to Miss!

It was 7:12 pm ... on a cold, wet night (Nov. 13/2006) ... and they hadn't even started. They'd already moved the meeting to a larger courtroom on the upper floor of the Rensselaer Court House.

The lawyers were called to the front to speak "off the record" with the Appeals Attorney running the "show" -- while people were crammed in like sardines -- a packed house with standing-room-only left when we showed up. People lined down the aisle, out into the small lobby entrance, into the larger lobby, down the stairs flooding onto the second floor in smaller groups ...and down the stairs almost to the front doors.

My best guess is that about 350 or more people showed up.

I got lucky -- found a darkened hallway leading to an empty side room with a door opening directly into the courtroom where I had a clear view of attendees, the BZA council members, the lawyers, reps and CAFO representatives.

If body language is anything to go by, some BZA members looked distinctly uncomfortable at the front. I thought it interesting to see the young County Sherrif officer show up. He stood halfway down the aisle.

Expecting trouble? Not sure...

7:20 pm -- and the lawyers are starting to get animated.

One of the BZA reps slapped his hand on the table, smiling and shouting out in agreement with one of the lawyers facing them. Two people leave to check the crowds in the lobbies outside and down the stairs, then return.

7:22 pm -- the CAFO reps were against the far wall, facing me. Did one of them take a pic of me with his digital cell phone? Not sure... He did see me writing notes.

7:23 pm -- the motion for a "continuance" is announced.

The lawyers get to have their "say" -- letting us all know, for the record, that they were ready and describing their motions before accepting the "continuance" motion.

Now, here's the interesting part.

The first legal team was representing 16 residents in the area of the proposed CAFO. He filed a motion to dismiss, stating this meeting was out of the BZA's jurisdiction owing to the CAFO's failure to comply with County ordinances in their application for their special exception permit. In other words, they had no right to even hold the meeting.

The crowd thundered its applause!

The second legal team was representing a Real Estate development firm, filing the same charges against the BZA (and the CAFO).

Another round of applause!

Both legal teams took approx. three minutes (+/-) to make their statements for the record. Then the CAFO rep spoke (read mumbled) a 15 second speach. No applause, of course.

Then reps from Dian Richardson's office voiced they were also in favor of a continuance. More applause. Then an area resident spoke up voicing he was also in favor of a continuance. Applause and laughter (relief?).

I can't remember the exact wording, but basically the Appeals Attorney stated the continuance was necessary so that "all in attendence" had the right to hear and make comments if desired -- this is necessary so that any decisions made at this Appeal Hearing would be sound and just, and no further Appeal would be required.

What a difference having a lawyer representing your case can make...

For the hog CAFO meeting, us area residents had just about as many people show up -- at least 100+ had to stand outside the courtroom and were unable to hear the proceedings -- yet they went forward anyway, making it a slam-dunk decision in favor of the CAFO, much to the disappointment of angry residents.

The new time/date for this CAFO meeting has been announced, and the stage is set for this to be the biggest CAFO fight in Jasper County, Indiana history!!

According to one local area radio announcer, he's been receiving several calls from people inside Jasper County as well as from 3 surrounding Counties -- all wanting the scoop on the next meeting.

Here it is:

Time - 7:00 pm
Date - Dec. 11, 2006
Location - Rensselaer High School

Rumors are already flying, saying this long delay goes in favor of the CAFO operators because they need the time to get their paperwork in order which even IDEM has found fault with ...or at least that's the "word on the street" for now.

Regardless which side of the CAFO fence you are on, this is one CAFO Hearing you do NOT want to miss!


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