Markle council to consider change in manure disposal rules

The Markle Town Council will consider a proposed amendment to its zoning ordinance concerning livestock operations at its upcoming meeting on Wednesday, April 15. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and is held at the Markle Town Hall Meeting Room, 155 W. Sparks St.

The proposal, which would amend the town's existing Zoning Ordinance regarding livestock operations, received a favorable recommendation from the town's Plan Commission on March 4. The amendment would add two points to the ordinance, specifically dealing with the disposal of livestock waste by way of a pit, pond or lagoon.

The new language would read as follows:
• All pits, ponds, and lagoons shall receive local approval from Huntington County and be engineered and constructed to Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) standards as these standards relate to Indiana Code concerning regulated livestock facilities.

• A closure plan for the pit, pond, or lagoon must be submitted to Huntington County that meets Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

The county amended its zoning ordinance similarly late last year and both the Warren and Mt. Etna Town Councils have also approved the changes.

The issue arose as a result of concerns by local citizens, explains Nate Schacht, executive director of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development.

"We had some individuals that wanted to help out the dairy operators in handling manure," Schacht says. "They wanted to store it at off-site properties at times when dairy operators can't get out into the fields."

The concern, Schacht states, "was that somebody would just take a backhoe and dig a hole in the ground with no means to protect the environment or address future issues with the environment. We put in language that the state already has livestock operators abide by. We followed all the state guidelines."

The amended ordinance would also include language to address the closure of any such pit, pond, or lagoon.

"We included a decommissioning plan," Schacht says. "If and when the facility is no longer needed, they have an action plan to haul out the waste and fill in the hole."

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be obtained from the Markle clerk-treasurer's office, which can be reached at 758-3193, or the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, 358-4836.