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Weight limits could help deal with confinement issue

By Staff | Apr 20, 2011

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday narrowing approved by a 3-2 vote an application by New Fashion Pork for a confinement in Section 6 of Armstrong Grove Township.

The problem the supervisors have in considering applications that fall under the DNR matrix evaluation – which applies to operations of 2,500 hogs or 1,000 cattle – is that emotionally charged issues often arise. Those issues can include concerns about competition by corporations with family farms as well as possible impact on quality of life.

Discussions on NFP’s application Tuesday focused on PRRS disease in hogs and impact on county roads.

While the DNR matrix pretty much sets its own boundaries, there is one area in which the county does have some control.

Weight limits.

Weight limits with some pretty hefty fines would be one way the county could recoup the cost of gravel, equipment and labor needed to put roads back into shape. The supervisors have talked a number of times about the cost of maintaining roads by confinements. Setting weight limits – and enforcing them – would do one of two things. It would either ensure that lighter loads would decrease the impact on county roads or else it would help the county raise the money – through fines – to make the necessary repairs.

Such a system would be more than fair. It would in effect be a direct tax on those entities impacting county roads. And you couldn’t get any fairer than that.

It’s just one thought that might help the taxpayers of Emmet County.