Letter: Industrialized farming degrades local quality of life

From: Tom Mee


In the midst of the holiday season it is hard to focus your thoughts on anything but celebrations. However, the residents of Bartholomew County need to be vigilant. Do not let your attention be diverted from the life-altering decisions being made for you by the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) Study Committee.

The CAFO advocates participating in the study committee keep referring to the “majority” report when talking about resolutions. They (CAFO advocate members of the study committee, county commissioners, Kris Medic) are not referring to the desires of the majority of the community. They are simply referring to the desires of the majority of the members serving on this particular committee.

The desires of the majority of the community were revealed during the open house hosted by the CAFO Study Committee, and the community survey seemed to indicate residents are seeking protection through setbacks. Keep this in mind while you read the proposals for the final documents concerning the placement of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

I have concerns about what will be included in the final proposal. They are:

1. No more will the applicant for a CAFO be required to appear before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

2. There will be no limit to the number of animals in CAFOs.

3. The setback to a residential district will be a half-mile to the nearest building, not property line.

4. CAFO Operators will have the ability to expand regardless of what neighbors have built on their property.

The BZA was asked recently to rule on an expansion project, again in the Hope area. William Corya wanted to add a 5,000-square foot building to the existing CAFO location at 1548 Stafford Road. Corya stated he would like to place the building 45 feet from the property line, which is 55 feet closer than the current 100-foot minimum setback required by the Bartholomew County Ordinance. Community members encouraged the BZA to restore community trust and enforce the 100-foot setback and reminded the BZA that Corya stated it was possible for the building to be placed within the appropriate 100 foot setback from the property line. The BZA did question Corya about this statement and he agreed that, yes, it was possible, but it was not something he was interested in doing. After Corya’s statement the BZA still granted the variance and allowed the building to be placed 55 feet too close to the property line.

If the residents in Bartholomew County still believe quality of life will not be altered by these CAFOs, just remember these buildings are destined for failure. Concrete cracks, fumes escape and sewage seeps. The tourism dollars will decline, property values will fall, student population in Hope schools will drop and your quality of life will be forever altered.

Take your county back and call your county commissioners at 812-379-1515. Voice your opinion about CAFOs (industrialized farming) and the effect it will have on your quality of life.