Letter: CAFO majority proposal puts property values at risk

From: Ann Jones


Bartholomew County is densely populated in its agriculturally zoned areas. It has between two to five times more people per square mile than its neighboring counties. As I drive around the county I see strip housing and small subdivisions everywhere. Over the last 60 years farmers have sold off strips of road frontage land and corners of their fields to build ranch houses and small subdivisions.

This expansion was possible because the county was zoned residential. There were no agriculturally zoned areas. You could build a house wherever you wanted with little or no restrictions, and people did. As recently as 2008, 66 percent of the county was rezoned agricultural. There are now more than 10,000 houses in the agriculturally zoned areas. Almost all of these houses were built from the 1950s through 2000.

As a result of this expansion we are left with little or no room to site CAFOs and also to have reasonable setbacks (as recommended by the Purdue University Agriculture Department) for the 27,000 rural residents and their houses, schools and parks. To squeeze CAFOs into our county by choosing very low setbacks compared to other counties shows little or no regard for our county’s residents.

This majority ordinance puts at risk the property values, health, safety and quality of life of many of our residents. A CAFO with no limit on size sited 500 feet from a house is a ludicrous proposal for an ordinance. The planning commission and the county commissioners are responsible for taking care of all of us, not just a handful of potential CAFO operators and their powerful lobbyists.