ACRE distributes funds to others

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One grassroots group is helping two other groups fund opposition to businesses they see as potential threats to the environment.

Active Citizens for Responsible Environmentalism (ACRE) recently donated $12,000 to the Madison-County based Darby Creek Matters and $10,000 to the Columbus-based Ohio Environmental Council. Both groups are keeping careful watch on a company seeking permits for a large dairy operation in London.

ACRE was formed in Madison County in January 2001 in response to Waste Management’s desire to establish a landfill in Clark County near the Madison County border and Somerford Township. Worried about ground water contamination, area residents formed a group and raised money to conduct tests and oppose the proposed landfill. In the end, Waste Management did not locate a landfill in the area.

Even after the landfill matter was put to rest, ACRE remained as an organization.

“We feel the area we’re in is vulnerable to predatory businesses, those that negatively impact the area environmentally,” said Gary Felix, a member of ACRE and resident of Choctaw Lake near London.

The group’s goal is protection from ground water contamination, noise pollution, heavy traffic, and other business practices that affect residents’ quality of life.

Currently, the business on ACRE’s radar is Orleton Farms LLC, a company owned by three brothers from Holland. The von Bakel family has plans to build a 5,428-cow dairy farm on 5,290 acres located on the north and south sides of state Route 29, west of state Route 38 outside of London.

“The proposed dairy farm lies within a mile-and-a-half of dense population,” said Felix, referring to Choctaw Lake and Plumwood. Darby Creek and Deer Creek are in the area. Manure management is a concern, Felix said.

Darby Creek Matters, a new group formed in May of this year, has made investigation of Orleton Farms LLC its priority. It’s for this reason that ACRE donated money to the group.

“There are mega dairies that can be run properly, but we feel there needs to be a lot of restrictions on this one to protect Darby Creek,” said Dale King, who serves as president of Darby Creek Matters and lives and farms on Route 29 near the proposed dairy site.

“We (Darby Creek Matters) have retained counsel. We want to make sure if it does go in, that they follow the permit to the letter of the law.”

King noted that Monroe Elementary School is downwind of the proposed dairy, which lies in the Springfork Watershed and in close proximity to the Darby Creek Watershed.

The money ACRE donated to the Ohio Environmental Council also is earmarked for efforts related to the vanBakel dairy. The Council is a lobby group that presents legislation to government leaders and provides testimony in cases that involve the environmental impact of businesses, including concentrated animal feeding operations.

While ACRE has distributed a large portion of its funds to Darby Creek Matters and the Ohio Environmental Council, the organization is not disbanding, Felix said.

“We will maintain seed money in case something comes up. We didn’t want the money to sit idle,” he said.

Kevin Pullin is ACRE’s president. Mike Quilter serves as treasurer, and Connie Feliks is secretary.

King’s neighboring property owner, Dave Thomas, is vice president of Darby Creek Matters. Dale Rapp is treasurer. Allen Garcia is the group’s spokesperson. For more information on the group, go to www.darbycreekmatters.com.

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