Ongoing legislation between the City of Connersville and Fayette County on Confined Feeding Operations (CFO) made it’s way to the Connersville City Council on Monday.

The discussion of a new CFO ordinance began over two years ago. The reconciliation process itself began months ago, when the County Commissioners passed their own ordinance regarding CFOs that changed the minimum setback distance between a CFO and a public use, home, church, school, hamlet, City of Connersville or rural subdivision to one quarter of a mile (1,320 feet) down from a mile (5,280 feet) before.

City Council did not approve the ordinance as some of the council’s members were concerned as to how a CFO that near the city would affect air and water quality in the city or subdivisions.

The city sent forward their own amendments reverting the distance between the city and any potential CFO back to the original one mile distance. The city can not put in place and enforce an ordinance outside of their purview (city limits) though, so the space from the city limit to the CFO was not enforceable, though the city can ban any CFO within city limits.

This lead to the creation of a reconciliation committee that saw Area Plan members, Commissioners and City Council members work together to find a compromise that the city and county could adopt in unison.

The results of the reconciliation committee were then approved with one change by the APC in November and sent to the city and county for their approval.

The committee came to the following agreements for CFO placement regulations:

• Distance between a CFO and primary dwelling: 1620 feet.
• Distance between a CFO and an area of public use: 2640 feet (half a mile), with no variance within 1620 feet allowed
• Distance between a CFO and the corporate limits of the City of Connersville: 1 mile
• Added definition of area of public use: State, Federal and Political subdivision, excluding right of ways and roadways.

A CFO can be within 1620 feet of the primary dwelling (a home) if the person placing the CFO owns the home and it does not violate any of the other criteria.

Because of the layout of the meeting schedule between the city and county, the City Council got the first chance to have a vote on the newly amended ordinance. APC Director Bill MacDaniel said if the council did not pass the ordinance that would result in the two entities (City and County) having different codes and thus enforcing two different ordinances. MacDaniel said this could ultimately lead to a CFO being placed within a mile of the city limits.

Newest Connersville City Council member Jabin Collins, who will be replacing the departed David Nutty, expressed his concerns regarding potential health effects of a CFO being that near a city, citing information from independent research he conducted on the matter.

“I feel like answering this in the immediate, we’re not going have any bad results tomorrow, but 10 years, 20 years from here I am deeply concerned that this is going to affect business and property values, but the health of our children. For that reason, I’ll be voting no.” Collins said.

Council Member Jenny Barrett expressed her belief that the council must do what thy can to protect the city.

“Personally I think that it puts us into a situation because we are city council, not county commissioners, sadly, I feel like the best thing that we as city council can do is protect our city residents, and I think it’s going to be really bad for the county, and that’s just unfortunate,” Barrett said.

“There’s been a lot of going back and forth and trying to make it work, and I think this is the best that we came up with,” said Brian Robb, who is also on the Area Plan Commission and was part of the reconciliation committee.

In a close vote the recommended ordinance failed on first reading. The vote was 3-4 with council members Barrett, Diana Phillips and Robb in favor of the reconciled ordinance and Collins, Bill Gray, Tommy Williams and Clarence Werner voting against the ordinance.

For the next steps, MacDaniel said that those who voted would need to put together letters explaining their vote on the action, and why they voted that way. Adding the letters would all go back to the APC.
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