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Residents in Morristown are concerned about the idea for a huge cow farm and a methane production station



Morristown, Indiana – An entire municipality is raising concerns about a possible farming enterprise due to anything from health problems to declining property values.

The town council will be considering a plan to rezone and annex hundreds of acres from Shelby County into Morristown. A controlled animal feeding operation, or CAFO, may soon occupy the contested site.

For many locals, including Jennifer Wright and her family, living in the country has been beneficial. They have resided in Morristown for 12 years.

“We love the stars, we love the lightning bugs, we love all the things you move out to the country for,” she said.

It has essentially been a dream come true with the starry nights and calm summer days.

“We knew this was going to be our forever place to live,” Wright said.

Only 20 yards separate the location where a potential dairy operation could relocate from Wright’s front porch. The 6,500 cattle in that dairy farm would raise a lot of issues for her family and the local community as a whole.

“We just found out they would like to annex this property into our town and then build a CAFO on it, which is a controlled animal feeding operation,” Wright said.

The CAFO would take up more than 100 acres, and a manure lagoon large enough for a football field would be located on an additional 30 or more acres there to produce methane.

“We’re worried about our home values, our quality of life, the life we’ve become accustomed to,” she described. “And I’m worried about the fact that it’s 1.26 miles away from our school.”

Along with living close by is Jenna White.

“Our biggest concern is just, we don’t know the effects of what this is going to do to our health,” White said. “The water supply a lot of times, even despite the best setups, there’s a lot of contamination that happens.”

According to White, this plan was only lately made known to the locals.

“We all kind of found out together about this four days ago,” she said. “A decision this big I feel like needs more time. A continuance to try and find what are the risks and rewards of something on this? It’s a very large endeavor that inevitably will affect the entire town.”

At a community educational gathering on Thursday, several showed up with related worries. Local physician Matthew Surburg expressed concern about the general well-being of the area’s residents.

“Particularly people with chronic diseases,” Dr. Surburg said. “In terms of the potential for air pollution, people with COPD, asthma, heart failure, and migraines can potentially be affected.”

Morristown residents currently claim that all they want is more time before any decisions are made and adopted.

To decide whether or not to annex the land from Shelby County to Morristown proper, the town will convene a meeting in August.

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