ARROW ROCK — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Friday issued a construction permit for a hog feeding operation near the Arrow Rock State Historic Site in mid-Missouri.
The permit, requested by Dennis and Chrissy Gessling, allows for the construction of two barns with a total capacity of 4,800 animals.
Doyle Childers, director of the DNR, acknowledged that the Gesslings’ request had been met with numerous objections. Many of those were related to worries that the hog feeding operation would harm Arrow Rock, a National Historic Landmark that has houses from the early 1800s.
The feeding operation will be two miles from the Arrow Rock site.
Scott Holste, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, said Nixon was “concerned about today’s action by Director Childers and how this decision would be in conflict with his charged responsibility to protect Missouri’s state parks and historic sites.”
But his department can only address water quality issues during the permit process, Childers said, and the Gesslings’ proposal met regulatory requirements and contained safeguards for waste storage.
“The Missouri Department of Natural Resources often hears concerns from neighbors about concentrated animal feeding operations, and sometimes we are the neighbor,” Childers said in a statement announcing the permit. “We must continue to be fair and consistent. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources understands the many concerns over this permit, but in the end, the department does not have the ability by law to address questions of zoning, location, property values, tourism or other items unrelated to water quality.”
The Department of Natural Resources also had been asked to delay issuing a permit pending results of a separate review required under the National Historic Preservation Act.
The state permit process is independent of the federal review, the Department of Natural Resources said.