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Board to consider 2 hog farm proposals

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A Hawcreek Township pork producer wants to build a confined feeding operation near the Bartholomew County community of Old St. Louis, closer than is allowed by the county zoning ordinance.

Jeff Shoaf wants permission from Bartholomew County’s Board of Zoning Appeals to build a confined feeding swine barn about 2,231 feet from houses in Old St. Louis.

That’s about 409 feet closer than the separation required by the county ordinance, according to the Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Department.

Shoaf’s request will be considered at 7 p.m. Monday at the Bartholomew County governmental office building.

Shoaf wants to raise about 2,000 pigs in the operation, six months at a time, raising them from 12 pounds to 275 pounds.

The property is at 11420 E. County Road 800N in Hawcreek Township.

The Columbus-Bartholomew County planning department’s recommendation to the Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals is to deny the request because the building would be located within a half-mile of residents, said city-county planning director Jeff Bergman.

The planning department’s recommendation is taken into consideration by the board, but there is no requirement that board members adhere to it.

“The applicant was certainly aware that that was a standard to be met,” Bergman said. “The applicant still has an opportunity to make their case to the board.”

Shoaf said he is aware of the standards and that his proposal would not meet the distance requirements. But the location is as far as he could place it from the nearest residential area, he said.

“It’s less intrusive where it sits than anywhere else on my farm,” he said. “There’s a lot of guidelines that everybody gives us, and we just do the best we can to meet them all.”

The swine would be raised in a building that would be about 82 feet wide, 205 feet long, with an 8 foot deep manure pit under the building.

The zoning appeals board also will consider a conditional use permit request for Shoaf’s property. If the operation handles 600 or more animals, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will regulate the business. When IDEM oversight is required, a conditional use permit is also required from the county, Bergman said.

Because Shoaf’s proposal doesn’t meet the county requirement for the minimum separation from homes, it automatically failed to meet the requirements for the conditional use permit, Bergman said.

In addition to the Shoaf request, the board will consider another hog operation request in a separate hearing June 30.

William Gelfius, of Hartsville, has modified a request for a concentrated animal feeding operation on County Road 200N, near Anderson Falls Park.

He withdrew a request for a 8,800 swine operation Dec. 23, making the new proposal for 4,400 hogs.

Gelfius’ request will go before the board at a special meeting at 6 p.m. June 30 at Columbus City Hall’s large meeting room.

The Anderson Falls CAFO Fighters have opposed the Gelfius proposal, saying nearby neighbors don’t want to deal with the smell, increased truck traffic, possible contamination of groundwater and possible harm to property values and the nearby Anderson Falls Nature Preserve.

Kathy Hershey, a member of the group, said the CAFO Fighters group will contest both operations because members believe the proposals are bad for Bartholomew County.

“We don’t really feel as though they should be making any more decisions until we do get some ordinances in place that are fair to homeowners and the farmers,” she said. “We don’t feel it is a farm. This is an industrial operation.”

Hershey said the group fears that approving the hog farms in Bartholomew County makes the county attractive for other farmers looking to establish similar operations. The hope is to educate the public on how a confined animal feeding operation impacts the environment, Hershey said.

“Some need to decide if bacon is worth it,” she said.

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