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Local Editorials

Must city and country clash? Who nose?

Some people on the east end of Sterling have been raising a stink about ... well, a stink on the east end of Sterling.

“Stink” is a relative term, of course. People in the livestock business might tell you that’s the smell of money.

Whatever it is, the introduction of pigs on a 120-acre plot of ground has led to complaints being received by the city of Sterling and Whiteside County Health Department.

Especially offended, it seems, are some diners at a restaurant that is among several commercial developments that, over the years, have moved Sterling eastward along East Lincolnway – on property that was farmland just a few years ago.

The existing farm ground is on the very edge of the city, not within its limits. So the city has no jurisdiction. And the county health department doesn’t deal with farm-related complaints.

Besides, the farmer in question is doing what he’s allowed to do on land zoned for agricultural use. His operation – PEEP Inc., for Pasture, Eggs en Pork – is fattening pigs on wheat stubble, alfalfa and clover while using the animals to naturally fertilize the soil. Hundreds of chickens were scheduled to join the effort that rotates the animals around the property in portable pens.

Such are the conflicts between the city mouse and the country mouse.

To state the obvious, the farm was there first. That it wasn’t a livestock operation until recently is but an inconvenient detail.

When developers eyed that good farm ground for commercial growth, a little planning foresight might have developed a buffer zone between the country and city so that the natural aroma of agriculture would not offend the olfactory sensibilities of retail consumers. A little light industrial zoning, maybe storage, warehouses and such, could have provided the necessary separation.

But such buffers take land – expensive farm ground – that drives up the cost of development. Thus, we often get the trade-off that produces awkward neighbors.

We suppose that as Sterling expands farther eastward, some more of the farm property will become too valuable for development to allow agricultural use. Better build in some buffers.

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