COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A couple's plans to build a pig breeding facility in a Willcox residential neighborhood have been put on hold after the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission raised concerns about the operation.
Kevin and Danelle Caffall, owners of Helping Hands Farm, want to breed pigs to sell to the University of Arizona for medical research at their property on N. Tys Lane.
Their application for a Special Use Permit prompted letters of opposition from seven neighbors, who said they were concerned about the potential smell, noise, dust, pests, water contamination, and traffic.
The Caffalls have yet to secure a contract with the University and have also not applied for certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – a requirement of the University contract. Kevin Caffall told the Commission he was waiting for approval of the Special Use Permit first, because the USDA certification fee is $300.
The Commission also heard from two neighbors who expressed concerns about the impact the business would have on their property values.
The Caffalls had already started construction of the pig barn, believing they did not require a permit, but halted building work when they realized that was not the case.
"We are just trying to do something that helps humanity," Caffall said, adding Helping Hands Farm would be the only USDA approved medical research pig breeder in Arizona.
The permit application was recommended for approval by County planners, based on the strict sanitation requirements of the USDA certification which they believe will mitigate the sanitation issues raised by the neighbors.
But Commission chair Patrick Greene wants more assurances from the Caffalls first.
"I have some serious concerns," he said. "It seems like you are moving ahead with construction before any indication of a contract with the University of Arizona."
He added he would also like more information about how the facility would be kept clean, to the standards expected of a business supplying animals for medical research.
The Commission voted to table the application for 90 days, to allow the Caffalls to gather more information regarding their contract with the University, the USDA certification, and to satisfy the concerns raised during the meeting on Wednesday.