An east-central Indiana aquaculture farm that produces nearly 3 million pounds of fish a year is facing some opposition to its $30 million expansion proposal.
Bell Aquaculture is planning to add 75 jobs to its current work force of about 50 people at the fish farm in Redkey, near the Delaware County town of Albany, about 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
But neighbors Tony and Amy Evans are opposing Bell's request for county permission to build the feed mill. The couple says strong odors from the farm's manure lagoon make it impossible for them to enjoy their home's patio, garden and the outdoors.
Farm officials say they're working to fix the odor troubles and need the feed mill to go forward with plans to more than double its production of perch, trout and salmon.
The business was founded in 2008. It supplies fish to several area restaurants, including Black Market and R Bistro, and Indianapolis fish market Caplinger's Fresh Catch.
Fish farming is a growing field in Indiana. Some believe the state’s central location, abundant land and water supplies, and relatively benign regulatory environment could foster a $1 billion industry in the next decade.
Tony Evans said the odor began last year after Bell added a $1 million-plus wastewater treatment plant and installed a quarter-acre manure lagoon.
"We did not used to have this problem," Evans told The Star Press.
The couple hosted a meeting Monday to organize opposition to Bell's application for a zoning variance.
Farm officials say they're working to fix the odor troubles by upgrading with "de-watering" technology to reduce the smells.
Bell recently acquired Grand Junction, Colo.-based Integral Fish Foods and plans to relocate that company's Colorado operations its Albany farm.
The mill's production capacity would be 2.2 million pounds of feed per month, with more than half of the feed ingredients coming from locally produced soybeans and grains. And the proposed mill would be temporary.
Bell is working to open a proposed 60-acre "aquapark" in a partnership with the county's government, where the company plans to build a permanent fish feed mill that it hopes can attract other aquaculture businesses.
Dave Lowe, president of the Indiana Soybean Alliance's board of directors, said the mill would help unlock the state's "immense" opportunity for aquaculture and bring in new tax revenue.
"We have needed this mill in Indiana to have the ability to source feed locally for quite some time," Lowe said.