ST. MARYS — Twenty-five people have requested a public hearing about a St. Marys farm’s request to expand.
Wilker Eggs and Grain Farm in St. Marys submitted a draft permit to operate and install in October. Before the Ohio Department of Agriculture reviews it, individuals can comment privately or through a meeting, though there must be 20 requests before a meeting is granted.
The meeting will be Tuesday, and will start with an open house at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Marys Township building. At 7 p.m., the public meeting will start.
The 25 people sent requests to ODA for the meeting, citing many issues with the farm expanding, including: health hazards, damage to air and water quality, odor, flies, pollution, property devaluation and a lowered water table, according to the requests provided by the ODA.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture requires farms of a certain size to have a permit to operate to make sure they are keeping to environmental standards, said Brett Gates, ODA spokesman.
The farm, located at 10675 Tri Township Road and operated by Ronald and Deborah Wilker, has not had to have a permit to operate in the past, as it hasn’t been large enough.
Farm owners are asking for a permit to install a second house for laying chickens, and its new installation, if approved, will put it over the threshold size to need a permit. It wants to add 252,720 layers, according to an October ODA release.
Comments can also be delivered or mailed to the ODA’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting office in Reynoldsburg until Jan. 13.
Notification of a final decision on the permit will be issued through a public notice, Gates said in an email.