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Chicken farm near school raising concerns

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GRANT COUNTY, Ind. (Oct. 29, 2015)- A proposed chicken farm is ruffling some feathers.  A Grant County farmer is planning to build a facility that would hold 28,000 chickens.  The chicken farm would be built less than a half mile from Eastbrook Junior/Senior High School.

“You think of air quality, you think of water quality potential diseases that could be accompanied with it. There are a lot of unknowns and I think the fear of the unknown is almost worse,” said Brett Garrett, Superintendent of Eastbrook Community Schools.

Just last week the Grant County Area Planning Board granted the permit to the farmer for the chicken operation. If the permit had been for 2,000 more chickens then county regulations would have applied and the operation would have had to be a mile from the school.

“They’ve met the letter of the law but obviously the spirit of the law would keep that air quality that could potentially impact our school corporation adversely,” said Garrett.

Neighbors are worried when the chicken farm moves in their property values will go down.

“What’s the smell going be like not only with the day to day operations but also when they clean it out and they haul the manure off site,” said John Neargardner, a homeowner.

FOX59 spoke with the farmer on the phone.  He told us this spot wasn’t his first choice of places to put the operation and he has been speaking to neighbors and school officials about his plans.

“I don’t think he has any ill-intent I think he’s just looking at this as an opportunity to help himself and his family. Let’s pause and take our time and get this thing right,” said Garrett.

The construction must be done within the next two years.  School officials have meetings set up for the next week to hopefully come up with a compromise.