LOSTANT — Would you want a hog farm in your backyard?
A handful of Lostant residents attended their village board meeting to voice concerns and encourage trustees to get involved in the discussion surrounding a proposed hog facility that could be built less than five miles southwest of the village — even though it would be in a different county.
Mike Phillips, a rural resident who is a Lostant School board member and teaches geology at Illinois Valley Community College, addressed the board first.
“We think that it will have a significant impact on the town, especially if it’s not operated properly,” he said, noting that the proposed facility would produce about 10 million gallons of waste every year. “Those odors will be coming by prevailing winds directly toward Lostant.”
The impact on the town could be more serious than residents’ nostrils being assaulted, though. Businesses that could consider building in Lostant may look elsewhere after one whiff.
Phillips also expressed concern over the amount of water the facility would need in order to maintain 5,000-10,000 hogs, since it will be using the same water supply as the village.
“The more facilities you have drawing off the same aquifer, the more you have to be concerned about yield,” he said.
Resident Leslie Smith said she believed the property values of homes in the village would decline if a hog farm is in operation nearby. Decreased values would hurt the village’s income from property taxes.
“That also has the potential to hurt any publicly funded facilities,” she said, citing the school, library and fire department as examples.
Phillips said the land where the potential owners say they plan to plow the waste into the soil is not appropriate for that use.
“You have to ask yourself, where is that manure going to end up,” he said.
Resident Carol Stoens expressed concerns about public health if the facility does not properly handle its waste.
“The illnesses and infectious diseases associated with (hog waste) — they’re nothing to shake your head at,” she said, citing H1N1 as an example.
Village president Fred Hartenbower responded on behalf of the board.
“I think we share the same concerns,” he said. “Our biggest question is what can we — outside the county and district — do about it.”
What can neighboring communities do?
Since it is not on their land, or even in their county, Lostant Village Board will not get a vote in whether or not the hog farm becomes a reality — or how it operates. And neither will La Salle County Board. The proposed site is in Marshall County.
“Unfortunately, La Salle County has zero say,” Phillips said. “They were very clever to (propose to) build it right on the county line, where the prevailing wind blows right into La Salle County.”
Phillips said he hoped board members would attend a public meeting in Wenona this week to learn more and express their concerns. Smith suggested trustees ask specifically how the facility would affect the water supply.
“It’s not out of line for neighboring towns to go (voice their concerns),” she said. “You can request of them to do a well study.”
Stoens said the facility is required to have a waste treatment plan in place but does not have to reveal that plan to the public. However, pressure from the public might convince the potential owners to share their plan.
Hartenbower said he plans to be at the meeting in Wenona this week and encouraged trustees to attend as well.
Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or email@example.com.