I was dismayed to learn that the Trade Lake Township board appears (at least temporarily) to be backtracking on its promise—voted under strong public pressure on June 13—to work vigorously to stop the proposed hog CAFO near Trade Lake. But I assume it is not too late to follow through.
It is extremely likely that any small steps forward for economic development that this CAFO could bring would have the result of far greater steps backward in undermining the economic and tax base. In addition to the damage to property values and local small businesses, this CAFO threatens so much environmental damage that it strains belief to think that it cannot be stopped for the public good.
If I proposed to have extremely loud hip-hop dance parties on my property until 3 A.M., or to build a gun range and operate it 24 hours a day, this would be an obvious problem for noise and safety ordinances to stop for the good of my neighbors. Whatever economic benefit I might have a right to claim for such an imagined business venture could not override the damage done to my neighbors’ property values and quality of life.
If I managed to slip a preliminary permit for such a business past my neighbors before they realized what I planned, this would not change the situation in any fundamental way. It would simply create a problem to solve going forward. One of the main purposes of community pressure and government ordinances is to regulate such things for the common good.
But the damage done to water and air quality—the most important economic resources of our whole region and the key to our quality of life!—is so much more dire from bringing in CAFOs, it pales in comparison to what I imagined. This CAFO is a terrible idea for the great majority of people in this whole region—including a disaster for long-term economic development and quality of life.
Once again: it strains belief to think that this cannot be stopped for the common good. I feel for the local town board members, caught in the middle of this conflict, but the stakes are too high. We have to do what needs to be done to protect vital natural resources, while supporting businesses that respect the needs of the whole community.