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Hog barn gets extension

By Staff | May 4, 2012

The Pierce County Commissioners granted another permit extension to Hexagon Farms, but not without a lot of discussion. Jim Gibbens, Hexagon Farms, was on the agenda for the May 1 commissioners meeting and requested that the commission approve an extension for his hog farrowing operation.

The commissioners had called a public meeting to be held as part of their regular monthly meeting. Although no one from the public was in attendance to support or oppose the facility, a couple of commissioners said they had received calls in opposition to the facility.

The commissioners held Mr. Gibbens feet to the fire as they questioned why the facility had not yet been completed with the extension in 2010. The project was granted a permit in February of 2008 and it was renewed in 2010.

“In four years you haven’t shown us any building,” said Commissioner Joe Bohl. “What do you have to show us? I see so many problems, I can’t support this at this time.”

Bohl added that his recommendation to his fellow board members was to give Gibbens six months to get a structure started and then Gibbons could come back and make his request.

“We don’t know if you are serious,” added Commissioner Dave Migler. “With opposition to the facility, we need to know.”

Gibbens responded that he could appreciate the commissioners’ concern on this issue. He said he can’t guarantee anything, but he is hoping to be ready to build within two years.

“You know you can but you don’t have to,” said Commissioner Duane Johnston. “Isn’t that right?”

Gibbens explained to the commissioners that he does not want to build at the wrong time. There was a change in the industry. When they were ready to build, he said, the hog market decreased and the investors lost $4 million which has been paid back. He said he has good Canadian investors.

“We need to have cash reserves of $2.5 million before we feel comfortable in going ahead,” said Gibbens.

Gibbens talked about other changes in the industry that might affect his operation. With people demanding free range animals, the industry is getting away from stalls for pigs in gestation. The pigs will be able to be free from the stalls, he said.

Commissioner Dave Migler asked Gibbens if he would have trouble hiring 20 employees in this area. He said he owns several other businesses and wasn’t concerned about finding employees.

The zoning board had notified the commissioners of their recommendation for a 2-year extension for Hexagon Farms.

Migler made a motion to grant a 14-month extension with a cost of a $500 fee for the permit. Johnston seconded the motion. Migler, Johnston, and Larson, voted in favor. Bohl voted nay. Gibbens was instructed to be ready to go forth by May 1 of 2013 or come to the board and tell them the project was being dropped.

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