ODA approves $20 million egg farm


By Susan Hartley - DarkeCountyMedia.com



DARKE COUNTY – Golden Heritage Egg Farm has been given the go-ahead to build a $20 million facility at 13285 Rhynard-Fink Road in Allen Township.

According to Katie Boyer, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Columbus, the approval was given Jan. 31, with both a Permit to Install and a Permit to Operate (as) Golden Heritage Egg Farm, both issued in early February.

As part of Cooper Farms, headquartered in Oakwood, Paulding County, the new facility,will house four million chickens in six barns. The facility also will include two manure storage facilities.

In June 2019 and again in November 2019, a regular township meeting and a special public meeting were held, giving residents the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have about the new farm. Most of the comments were concerning the odor, manure containment, possible contamination t0 neighboring water wells, and property values.

The ODA said the parent company conducted tests to ensure the water supply would not be negatively affected. As for concerns about the smell, a nearby woods is expected to act as a filter.

Last fall, representatives from the ODA said it would take a couple weeks to make a decision on the farm. But due to the number of questions/complaints received from township residents, it took longer than expected to make their final decision.

The next step, according to ODA’s Boyer, “is it’s in the company’s hands to start building. Once approved, they can move forward.”

Messages left for the communication spokesperson from Cooper Farms were not returned on Thursday.

Last June, the Darke County Commissioners approved a letter of recommendation concerning road and bridge improvements that will need to be made to the Hiestand and Rhynard-Fink roads area to establish a truck route from State Route 118 to the Golden Heritage Egg Farm.

The letter of recommendation included an overview of improvements needed to support an increased flow of traffic.

According to Commissioner Matt Aultman, commissioners received notice from the Department of Agriculture alerting them to the proposed egg farm and the need for road improvements. Commissioners had 30 days to respond with a proposal.

“According to the Ohio Revised Code, if we didn’t respond, they would use the roads anyway” in their current condition, Aultman said, which would result in taxpayers having to eventually foot the bill when improvements are needed.

The letter approved by commissioners included a list of repairs and improvements prepared by Jim Surber, county engineer, who ultimately approves the work, which would be completed by a contractor hired by the egg farm.

The estimated $1,552,400 infrastructure project would be paid for through a TIF – tax increment financing – using property taxes assessed to Heritage Egg Farm.

Aultman said an estimated 30 trucks are expected to travel to and from the egg farm on a daily basis.

By Susan Hartley

DarkeCountyMedia.com

Reach Managing Editor Susan Hartley at shartley@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Managing Editor Susan Hartley at shartley@aimmediamidwest.com