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County Commission Communications
A Periodic Column Written by Ed Douglas, Presiding Commissioner

August, 2023

In 1997, Livingston County adopted a Health Ordinance regulating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The purpose of the ordinance was to protect the health of residents in our County as it related to CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). The ordinance that was adopted contained conditions that had to be met before a permit was allowed by the Commission. These conditions were in general somewhat more stringent than the State of Missouri's regulations on CAFOs through the Department of Natural Resources. The Ordinance addressed a number of items including setback distances from sensitive uses such as residents, spacing between CAFOs, water contamination, odor measures, bonding requirements, and retaining an independent engineer to verify certain measurements and to have public hearings to get input from the community.

Several years ago, the Legislature passed several laws, primarily Senate Bill 391 and House Bill 271 (2021), that nullified a county's ability to have a health ordinance with stricter requirements than State requirements from the DNR. This law was contested in court by several law suits from counties that, like Livingston, had health ordinances. After Senate bill 391 was passed, Livingston County had two applications for new CAFOs. While the lawsuits were being contested, we were advised by counsel that our health ordinance still allowed us some of the procedural measures within the policy including hiring an outside engineer to review the technical parts of the application which can take time to complete properly. Both of these CAFO applications were ultimately withdrawn during our review periods.

The lawsuits ultimately went all the way up to the State Supreme Court, and the court ruled that Senate Bill 391 was legal; therefore, county health ordinances with stricter requirements were effectively nullified.

Therefore, on advice of counsel, we recently amended our health ordinance to comply with the law. At the same time, we adopted a resolution which objects to the concept of the State taking away the ability of local government to make rules that best suit the residents of our local community. We further asked the legislature to reverse Senate Bill 391 and House Bill 271. I am not optimistic that the legislature will reverse these laws in the near term, but we have at least gone on record on the importance of local rule making.

Click each link to see the complete resolutions adopted by the Commission on June 1, 2023.


ORDINANCE NO. 060123 with no East District

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