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Neighbors oppose proposed cattle pen

Neighbors of a proposed cattle holding facility onJackson-Liberty Road are raising concerns about the operation, butthe developer says he has yet to make a final decision on hisplans.

Becky Bowman, who lives and operates a clothing store near theJackson-Liberty Road site being developed by Robert Rawls, has beencirculating a petition and contacting environmental officials afterhearing about possible plans for the area. The site, about half amile south of Highway 550, could be used for processing andtransferring cattle, although the number of cattle that would behandled was unclear.

“We’re so close to it, it’s going to be a problem for us,” saidBowman, who has several nearby relatives including one who livesadjacent to the site.

Bowman expressed concerns about flies, noise, increased trafficand the potential for declining property values.

“We’re worried about that and all hours of the night, too,” shesaid, referring to the possibility of late-night cattlemovements.

Mentioning hours of operation, Bowman said the sounds of dozersdeveloping the site can be heard now from early in the morninguntil dark. Referring to conversations with some officials, shesaid facilities like the one that may be going up near here areusually in larger communities, or at least in ones with betterroads to handle the volume of traffic.

“Everybody I talk to can’t believe they’re doing it here,”Bowman said.

Rawls, however, said the operation may not become a reality.

“I’m not for certain what I’m going to do with it…,” saidRawls, adding that he may develop a trailer park on the site. “AllI’ve done is some ground work and put a driveway into theplace.”

State Department of Environmental Quality officials have spokenwith Bowman and have visited the site to discuss the possiblecattle operation with Rawls, who lives on Highway 550. Officialshave not made any determinations yet regarding what kind of permitsor other requirements that would be needed.

“We’re still getting information,” said Becky Williams, withDEQ’s Permit Division.

Citing Rawls’ statements in a DEQ field report, Williams saidinitial indications of thousands of head of cattle at the facilitywere inaccurate. Only about 300 would be on site at any onetime.

“We’re trying to get all the details,” Williams said.

Rawls said DEQ officials were misinformed with some of theirdata, and there have also been other rumors going around thecommunity. He said he would follow permit regulations asneeded.

“Whatever requirements I have to have, I want to have,” Rawlssaid.

Bowman said more than 10 people signed her petition and she hadbeen unable to talk with several others in the neighborhood.

“We’re getting the petition ready,” Bowman said.

If the cattle operation moves forward, she said the petitionwould be presented to DEQ or the county board of supervisors if hereffort to oppose it. She also mentioned the possibility of legalaction.

Bowman said she is a strong believer in people being allowed todo what they want to with their land. However, she was against thecattle operation in the middle of a residential community.

On the other hand, Bowman said the idea of a trailer park in thearea was great.

“Hearing the laughter of children and a few family fights wouldbe better than cattle,” Bowman said.