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Commissioners to Reconsider CAFO Setbacks

Chair Roger Nyquist asks a question of Deputy County Attorney Kevan McCulloch during the Linn County Board of Commissioners meeting. Photo by Alex Paul

After extensive discussion at the May 15 Linn County Commissioners meeting, Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker agreed to reopen a code text amendment process which they defined at a December 2023 meeting.

The issue concerns Confined Animal Feeding Operations for which the commissioners had approved a one-mile setback from neighboring properties that contained dwellings.

Since the approval in December, the commissioners have received input from members of the agricultural community who believe the setback is too stringent. The Planning Commission recommended a three-quarter mile setback and the original proposed text suggested a half-mile setback.

The action came because a company wants to establish a large CAFO in the Scio area that would produce millions of chickens annually. Neighbors were concerned the facility, which would require several large buildings, could affect air and water quality for a local school and the nearby river.

Options on the table at the meeting ranged from adopting the text code amendment as is and instructing staff to begin an amendment process, to reopening the issue and trying to bring more stakeholders — such as cattle and swine breeders — to the table before final adoption is made.

Planning Manager Alyssa Boles said the commissioners could hold another public hearing after posting a Legal Notice for 21 days and notifying people who had provided comments at the previous hearing.

At the Public Hearing, the commissioners would set the parameters for written public testimony to be received, likely seven days and then another seven days for responses.

In all, the process will take about five to six weeks, Boles said.

The commissioners agreed to follow this process.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved a four-year contract with Heath’s Laundry in Albany to provide services for the Linn County Jail.
  • Were informed by Planning and Building Director Steve Wills that there were 330 total permits issued in April. There were 50 land use permits issued. Wills said 20 code enforcement cases were closed and 13 were opened in April. Wills said Planning and Building staff members have developed a “History of Linn County” story map, which is now on the department’s web page.
  • Approved the closure of North River Drive near Sweet Home from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 8 and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 9, and Quartzville Road from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 9 to accommodate the annual Best of the West Triathlon at Foster Reservoir.
  • Had the first reading of a proposed Linn County Electronically Amplified Sound Code.
  • Approved an intergovernmental agreement for the Linn County Transient Lodging Tax between the City of Albany and Linn County.