Opponents of a planned hog confinement operation said Sunday a petition against the project gathered more signatures than they had expected.
Jeff Jones, of Friends for Responsible Agriculture, told KRCG 13 the petition gathered about 1,150 signatures. He had expected 1,000 signatures at most.
"It just shows that there is great concern in this community," he said.
Callaway County residents have been debating the merits of a proposed 10,000-pig facility for a month. Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms recently purchased a plot of land from Darren Horstmeier on County Road 227, just south of the Hatton exit on Interstate 70. Opponents of the project say it would pose too many public health and environmental risks, and Jones said he wants the farm to go to a less-populated area. The petition was launched after opponents uncovered a 15-year-old document in which the Horstmeier family had agreed not to build any new hog confinement facilities within five miles of an existing one on County Road 235. The Eichelberger operation would be about 2.5 miles away. Ann Hagan, an attorney for Jones' group, has said the document is legally binding to the Horstmeier family as well as anyone who purchases their land.
Jones said the Callaway County Commission has taken an interest in the debate and is considering a health ordinance that would effectively stop the operation. He said commissioners told him they would research whether they could block any permits for the facility.
Jones said Eichelberger Farms has told him the petition drive would have no impact on company officials' decisions regarding the hog facility. Horstmeier turned down a request for comment, saying his attorney had told him not to speak further on the matter.