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Cole County judge considers CAFO case

Cole County Judge Daniel Green said he needed time to “wrap [his] head around” a lawsuit Monday holding up the review of a Callaway County hog operation.

Lawyers representing Callaway Farrowing, the group trying to build a 10,320-head confined animal feeding operation in that county, and the state’s Clean Water Commission both asked Judge Green to dismiss a lawsuit against them. In June, Friends of Responsible Agriculture, a group of landowners concerned of the environmental effects the farm may have, claimed several members of the commission took tours of CAFOs before deciding whether to uphold Callaway Farrowing’s operating permit. The suit, written by Stephen Jeffery from the Jeffery Law Group in St. Louis, said the five commissioners that went on the tours should recuse themselves, having considered “facts and evidence” outside of a February hearing on the matter from the Administrative Hearing Commission.

Thais Folta, the attorney for the commission, said the commission had not even started deliberating on the topic. If the five members of the seven-person commission involved in the tours of the CAFO recused themselves from the vote, none could take place, because the group would lack a quorum, Folta said.

Folta, along with Callaway Farrowing attorney Joshua Devine, said FoRAG should wait until the commission makes a decision, citing a state statute allowing judicial review of the commission’s choice.

“My commission needs to do its job before [Jeffery] can complain about the job that was done,” Folta said.

Judge Green told the attorneys there he would make a decision “in a timely fashion.”

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