Bartholomew County residents have a great opportunity to offer ideas and shape the community in which they live by participating on a committee that will evaluate local livestock regulations — including confined animal feeding operations.
County officials wisely formed the committee after the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved William Gelfius’ request to seek approval of a hog-growing operation near Anderson Falls Park, a nature preserve considered a community gem.
Gelfius withdrew a request for a zoning exception for an 8,800-hog operation after encountering intense opposition. He’s now seeking a 4,400-head hog operation at his farm along East County Road 200N in the eastern part of the county.
Opponents say the new proposal still raises the same concerns, such as possible water contamination, harm to the nature preserve and lowering property values.
The county is home to seven large-scale hog farms, and opponents worry current rules aren’t strict enough to prevent an expansion of these operations.
Whether you support or oppose confined animal feeding operations, residents should play a role in determining what they will allow in their community. The formation of this committee will let Bartholomew County strike a balance between property rights and quality of life concerns by neighbors.
Committee members will consider changes to permitted and conditional land uses and lot standards, for example. They’ll weigh whether rules need changing and work with the county’s comprehensive plan, which influences but does not mandate community land use and development decisions.
Equally important, the committee will provide transparency to a permitting process and regulations that aren’t easily understood.
County commissioners want people on the committee who are open-minded and can see and respect all sides of an issue. That’s a fair request considering committee members will be weighing the interests of many people with different opinions.
What’s important is that residents have an opportunity to determine what is the best fit for the county. That’s a benefit to the community.