Calling the hogs: After dispute, Fayetteville landowner plans hog farm

Calling the hogs: After dispute, Fayetteville landowner plans hog farm

A landowner says he’s going to put hogs and goats on his land near a residential community just outside the city after neighbors complained about his plans for a commercial building.

The Washington County Planning Board denied landowner Pat Tobin’s request for a permit to build a 4,890-square-foot metal building on 20 acres at 4012 Old Wire Road last month.

Tobin originally planned to build several metal buildings to lease to businesses, according to county records. Staff recommended approving the project, but several of Tobin’s neighbors voiced concerns over compatibility and drainage. He took his proposal for a single, commercial building for his own business to the board last month. Neighbors objected to that, too.

“Since they didn’t want the commercial, I guess they prefer the sows,” Tobin said. “So, that’s what we’ll give them.”

Tobin’s plans include a small, residential structure and a farm with four pens for up to 20 pigs per pen. Pens also will be dedicated to goats, he said. The farm will be a “mix” between a hobby and professional farm to provide organic meat products directly to clients, he said.

Tobin put up a sign last week for J&B Hog-Goat Farm. J and B are the first initials of his grandchildren. He parked a bulldozer beside the sign.

The move sparked more concern among neighbors, who said it seemed Tobin was being vindictive after the Planning Board turned down his commercial plan.

“I’d say he’s pretty angry,” neighbor Tim Foster said. “He seems to be fairly obstinate in a ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ mentality.”

Some neighbors called county planners, who went to the site Friday. The property is zoned for agricultural or single-family home use. Tobin has the right to use his property for those two categories without Planning Board approval, Senior Planner Nathan Crouch said.

Fayetteville doesn’t have a say over whether Tobin puts farm animals on his property, said Andy Harrison, development coordinator for the city’s Planning Division. The property is outside the city’s jurisdiction, even though it is within the city’s 1-mile planning area, he said. The county notifies the city about developments that require waivers from county zoning and are within the planning area, but the city has no regulating power.

Tobin said he doesn’t need a permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees environmental issues including stormwater runoff. An agency spokeswoman said in email Tuesday the agency needs more information to determine any requirements. Tobin hasn’t filed for any state environmental agency permits, state records show.

The state Health Department has issued a permit for a small septic system on the property.

Tobin said he plans to break ground on the project this week. He said he’s still working on the business aspect of his plan.

The farm is near Mud Creek, which flows into Fayetteville, neighbor Joseph “Jodie” McAlister said. McAlister and others said they are worried about environmental problems from the farm.

“The whole city of Fayetteville will be affected by this if the runoff gets into Mud Creek,” said McAlister, whose property is directly across the road from Tobin’s. The creek is an urban tributary to the Illinois River. McAlister was in favor of Tobin’s commercial building — with conditions.

Tobin hasn’t talked with his neighbors. At least two speculated the farm was a hoax, even though Tobin broached the idea during the Planning Board meeting last month.

“I guess we didn’t take it seriously,” neighbor Christina Gall said. “I’m kind of thinking he just kind of made it up, but I don’t know. That sign just went up. All the neighbors were like ‘Oh, OK.’”

Tobin bought the property across from Gall and McAlister last year, county records show.

He said he hasn’t talked with neighbors or county planners about his plans.

“I see no reason to,” he said.

Tobin said he won’t appeal the Planning Board’s decision to the Quorum Court. He can get revenue — which was all he wanted — through the farm instead of the commercial rentals, he said.

Gall said Tobin’s idea is better than the commercial rental space.

“I’d rather live across the street from a hog farm than a big rental project,” she said.

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