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Letter: Agriculture should be held to business standards

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Doug Logan


Can someone tell me why Bartholomew County has zoning and a plan commission? Last week, the board voted down a proposal to build a Christian resort, I mean, retreat, because the neighbors understandably raised concerns about noise and traffic. At the previous meeting, though, the plan commission refused to enforce its own rules and voted to let a pig factory take over a Bartholomew County neighborhood.

Isn’t the point to reach a higher level of good by protecting the value of my property from what my neighbor does with his, and vice versa? Zoning is supposed to keep my next door neighbor from doing something like opening a massage parlor (not likely; he’s a minister). Know what? I don’t mind that I can’t offer hot-air balloon dinner flights from my backyard.

It is really hard to understand the board’s action on the pig farm. The owner admitted that his plan put the barn too close to his neighbors. An out-of-state investigator pointed out that the application included misleading information, like unusually low estimates of truck traffic. But the owner’s son-in-law said he’s a nice guy, so full speed ahead.

The same thing is happening across Indiana. The July 25 Republic included an article about a case in Randolph County where the judge ruled that neighbors — some on property that had been in their families for decades — have no grounds for action against the pork manufacturer that moved in six or seven years ago.

Unfortunately, Indiana has a “right to farm” law that the agricultural business interests bought from our Legislature. Evidently the price tag for the constitutional amendment the buyers asked for was too high. Does anyone honestly believe that the bill was about individual rights?

Let’s set the record straight. Farming is not about Maw and Paw tryin’ to raise enuff vittles to feed their passel o’ young’uns, a flock o’ chickens and ol’ Bossy through the winter. Farming is a business, and there is no legitimate reason to excuse those businesses from the same standards — zoning, environmental or anything else — that we hold other businesses to. Maybe it’s not too late to reverse the damage.

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