SPENCERVILLE —The Ohio Department of Agriculture signed the final permits Friday for Pine Valley Ranch LLC, an egg-laying facility that will include over 2.2 million chickens and was a hotly contested issue with many Spencerville-area residents voicing concerns.
Located at 21638 state Route 116 in Van Wert County’s Jennings Township, the facility will follow all pertinent guidelines necessary to make it safe, both for residents and the environment, according to ODA Communications Director Erica Hawkins.
“The (Permit to Install) proposes to construct six new layer barns, each capable of housing 370,000 layers, for a total design capacity of 2,220,000 layers,” she said. “The (Permit to Operate) details different plans and science-based guidelines the facility must follow, including regarding manure management, insect and rodent control, mortality management and emergency response.”
Multiple public meetings in Spencerville and Monticello featured several area residents opposing the farm, citing issues ranging from smell to increased traffic to potential threats to the area water supply.
“This megacomplex, if allowed to proceed, will be constructed within the boundaries of the Allen County Combined Sole Source Aquifer,” Brett Rider, of Spencerville, wrote in a July letter to The Lima News. “This aquifer is the same that the Dumpbusters fought so hard to protect back in the late 1980s. This aquifer spans into five different counties which include, Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Putnam and Van Wert. It is the primary water source to 90 percent of the 30,000 residents who depend on it for their daily water needs.”
A July statement from Pine Valley Ranch principal owners Jim and Josh Fleck, of New Bremen, and Ralph, Randy and Chris Rindler, of St. Henry, included assurances that all necessary steps would be taken by the farm to be good to both its neighbors and to the environment.
“We have committed our lives to producing safe, wholesome foods and to responsible farming — that remains firm,” the statement read. “As the project moves forward, it is our intent to do the right thing and to be open in our communications with stakeholders.”
Once operational, the farm is expected to produce over 18,000 tons of poultry manure per year.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.