The Ohio Department of Agriculture gave 16 reasons why it intends to deny Hi-Q Egg Products' request to build an egg farm in Union County.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture gave 16 reasons why it intends to deny Hi-Q Egg Products' request to build an egg farm in Union County.

The company has 30 days to present a response to the state.

ODA director Robert J. Boggs sent a certified letter to the company dated Aug. 25 stating the agency's intent to deny two permit requests filed by Hi-Q to construct a farm in northwestern Union County, citing the company's failure to furnish all the needed paperwork.

Hi-Q proposes to construct 15 layer houses with 400,000 layers each, for a total capacity of 6-million chickens, according to the permit requests. Plans would also call for three separate manure storage barns, a lagoon treatment system for the eggwash consisting of two treatment cells with a capacity of about 3,834,387 gallons each, along with a third storage cell with a capacity of about 15,563,940 gallons.

The company has 30 days from the date of the letter to request a hearing, or the ODA "will issue as a final order the proposed action without a hearing," according to the letter.

Hi-Q Egg Products, LLC is proposing the construction of a new egg laying facility at 22450 Davis Road, West Mansfield. The farm would be located in York Township, which is also in the Upper Scioto Watershed. Hi-Q Egg Products, LLC is the owner of the facility, with Jeffry Henning and Steven George, both of Johnston, Iowa, listed as LLC members.

Boggs' letter to Hi-Q lists 16 reasons for the decision to deny the permit requests, citing mandates in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to provide all the necessary documents in the permitting process. Some forms from the county officials have not been included, the letter states. Those documents revolve around a needed transportation agreement between the farm developer, county commissioners and York Township trustees, which would hammer out who is responsible for infrastructure improvements before the farm would be built.

Union County commissioner Gary Lee said there is more to the matter than a few pieces of paper that need to be signed.

"As it stands, all along we've been very consistent in asking Hi-Q to make some needed road improvements for the safety of the county," Lee said. "There's going to be tremendous traffic going through that area. We have said all along that if Hi-Q complies with our transportation requirements, we will sign an agreement and send it to the (ODA) director. We're not using this as an excuse to hold up the permit."

Lee said the commissioners haven't communicated with Hi-Q representatives for several months.

"Our last communication was that they were moving the entrance (of the farm) to state Route 47, and that their stance was that we don't need to make any road improvements on county roads, because they won't be using them. Their stance is basically that there won't be any truck traffic on the county roads, and we're saying that we don't believe that."

Lee said county engineer Jeff Stauch has determined the logical routes that truck drivers will use to access the farm, which include those county roads.

Lee added that the commissioners only received an official copy of the ODA director's letter on Friday morning, and that he is not happy that the letter implicates county officials as the reason for Hi-Q's requests being denied.

"It was the commissioners' understanding, as far back as 18 months ago, that not being able to reach a transportation agreement with Hi-Q would not be a fatal flaw in that permitting process," he said.

Lee said the decision by ODA could affect the county's further actions with a baseline study its officials contracted OSU to perform on the environmental state of that portion of the county.

"I think we'll probably carry through with at least the first part of the study we contracted OSU with, but I think the question is whether we will choose to pursue it further, which will be dependent on the outcome of this permitting process."

ODA public information officer Kaleigh Frazier said that the ODA will also post the notice in local media, and that the department will accept public comment for a 30-day period.

"If the ODA receives a significant number of comments about the denial in those 30 days, then it will also hold a hearing," Frazier said.

Hi-Q legal counsel Kevin Braig said that as of Aug. 27, the company had not made a decision about requesting an ODA hearing.

"That decision has not yet been made, but Hi-Q is continuing to study its options," Braig said.