Missouri halts proposed chicken farm near state park

Thursday, August 2, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- State regulators have at least temporarily stopped a large indoor chicken farm near Roaring River State Park from continuing with construction.

Officials said Wednesday that the owners will need to win further approvals to start any operations.

Opponents of the confined animal feeding operation won a temporary stay last week that effectively stopped construction of the partially finished chicken houses.

The owners of Ozbun Farm in southwest Missouri's Barry County want to raise 65,000 pullets for egg-laying.

But some residents have objected that runoff will threaten nearby Roaring River State Park, the spring that feeds a state fish hatchery and Roaring River itself.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued an initial permit allowing construction of four poultry houses.

But on July 25, the state Administrative Hearing Commission issued a stay requested by project opponents, commission attorney Paul Otto said.

Commissioner John Kopp ruled that a waiver on setbacks obtained from a neighbor was not valid. That provided the basis for upholding a stay.

The commission set another hearing for January.

The construction delay could threaten owner Michelle Ozbun's $1 million financing loan, and failure to obtain a properly signed waiver from the neighbor might prompt the Department of Natural Resources to reconsider issuing the permit, Kopp said.

"Yet we do not think our stay is the only hurdle to her beginning operations," Kopp wrote in his decision.

Ozbun will have to obtain another waiver from the neighbor before the Natural Resources Department issues an operating permit, its agriculture unit chief, Darrick Steen, said.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com

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