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Farmer seeks OK for smaller hog operation


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For the second time this year, an eastern Bartholomew County farmer is taking steps toward creating a hog operation next to Anderson Falls Park near Newbern.

After a large and mostly negative public response last winter, William Gelfius’ original request for a zoning exception that would have allowed up to 8,800 hogs on his property was removed from consideration in February.

“The applicant has submitted information that they are asking for a zoning exception for less hogs this time,” Columbus-Bartholomew County planning Director Jeff Bergman said.

However, the exact number of hogs has not been stated yet, Bergman added.

But whether a scaled-back proposal from Gelfius can be considered this year will be determined by the county board of zoning appeals, Bergman said.

Under board rules, Gelfius’ proposal cannot be heard again until at least February 2015. However, members could waive the waiting period if a new proposal is substantially different from one that was withdrawn, Bergman said.

A discussion concerning the issue is on the board’s Wednesday agenda. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at Columbus City Hall.

While the public may attend the May 28 meeting, Bergman said both opponents and supporters should keep three things in mind:

  • The topic will be a discussion item among BZA members and planning personnel only.
  • Since there will not be a public hearing, no comments will be taken from audience members.
  • No presentation on the latest proposal from Gelfius will be made during the meeting.

Instead, the discussion will focus only on whether the one-year waiting period should be waived, Bergman said.

If the board decides to consider the new proposal this year, the first step would be for the board to pick up where it left off in February, Bergman said.

“That means a public hearing would again be scheduled, since there is so much public interest during the first proposal,” Bergman said.

A January hearing drew about 135 residents, many opposed to the creation of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) on the north side of Gelfius’ farm at 20565 E. County Road 200N.

Also on Wednesday’s BZA agenda is a public hearing concerning an event venue owned by Bruce and Juli Bartells that’s already open in southwest Bartholomew County.

White Creek Acres, located off County Road 930S, just east of Waymansville, is often booked for weddings and receptions. But on their website, the Bartels state that their facility also is available for several other special events, including corporate gatherings.

A neighbor is concerned that a driveway he shares with White Creek Acres has visibility problems that make it too dangerous to serve as a public venue entrance and exit, Bergman said.

Concerns about excessive noise also have been voiced by another neighbor, he said.

What’s next?

The Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the meeting room at Columbus City Hall to discuss whether a modified request by William Gelfius for a hog farm can be heard this year.

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