This plan lays a big egg
April 04, 2007
We're less concerned about protecting chickens than questioning the scale of a proposed egg-producing operation near the 11,000-home River Islands development in Lathrop.
A 900,000-hen farm simply doesn't seem appropriate in a rapidly growing suburban area.
Agriculture remains San Joaquin County's No. 1 industry, and much of it needs to be protected from encroaching development.
However, a new operation of such magnitude should be located a lot farther from residential neighborhoods.
The Olivera Family Limited Partnership, which already owns a similar operation in nearby French Camp, has made significant adjustments since first proposing the egg ranch a year ago. Initial plans were larger and even closer to River Islands.
The 242,000-square-foot operation is still too big and too close.
The plan again has drawn strong and justifiable opposition from residents, developers and city officials in Lathrop.
Animal-rights activists also have protested. Their opposition is naive, predictable and overheated.
When county planners review this latest proposal, they must consider:
» Environmental impacts, including potential air-quality decline and the dangers should a flood occur.
» Foul odors from chicken waste.
» The agriculture-urban interface. Is this a compatible land use so close to Lathrop?
» The San Jose-based Olivera company's spotty record with codes and regulations in both San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties.
This isn't exactly a "Which came first? The chicken or the egg" proposition. It is, however, a reflection of San Joaquin County in transition.
Agriculture is healthy, but contracting. New housing is healthier, and expanding.
Online at http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070404/A_OPINION01/704040318/-1/A_OPINION06
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