Victory for Citizens Asserting Clayton Hog Factory Too Close For Comfort

Group pressures Village Trustees to take legal action enforcing municipal zoning ordinance at the December 1st Village meeting — and Village listens

CLAYTON, IL DECEMBER 7, 2015 After months of pressure from various individuals working independently, the newly formed coalition named Clayton Area Citizens for Clean Air and Water (CACCAW) scored a victory at last week’s Village of Clayton meeting. On December 1st, the Clayton Village Council made a motion to draft a resolution for enforcement of the Village’s zoning ordinance against a massive swine confinement already approved for construction by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). The CACCAW, supported by the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW) and the national nonprofit, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), opposes construction and operation of Professional Swine Management’s proposed Falcon Ridge Farms, LLC — a 20,000-head hog concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) to be sited within Clayton’s 1.5 mile zoning boundary.

During last week’s meeting, the group expressed dissatisfaction with the Village Mayor, Sam Miller, and the Trustees for their non-enforcement of the local zoning ordinance, which has been in place since 1987.

We certainly do not oppose responsible livestock production in Illinois,  said CACCAW member Luann Ketchum. “However, we all have witnessed what other Illinois communities have suffered from these massive facilities, and feel fortunate that our village zoning ordinance can protect our tiny community from the impacts of 20,000 head of swine. 

Back in May, the still-unnamed group gathered over 250 signatures in a petition opposing the project, according to group member, Brenna Kindhart.

The Village has enforced the zoning ordinance to stop wind turbines and also to keep a grain bin from going up in town, so we were really confused as to why Village officials were not opposing this thing,  said Kindhart. We knew we needed to get organized and voice our concerns, so we had a private group meeting, decided on a name for our group, and then drove up to the Village meeting in a caravan for the public comment period. 

While the Village finally resolved to enforce its ordinance at the close of the meeting, which could prevent construction of the facility, CACCAW will still weigh its legal options. If the Village fails to follow through, the group may legally challenge the Village for not upholding the law. At this moment, local residents view last week’s vote a major victory for CACCAW and a sign that the Village Trustees are finally representing the interests of the community.

Up until now, the Mayor and Village Trustees have not been representing the interests of their constituents — the local residents,  said Eric Sterling a research associate with the ICCAW. They are finally headed in the right direction. Their decision to enforce their zoning ordinance is a vital step to protect the resident’s quality of life and the long term future of the Village of Clayton. 