At the previous Connersville City Council meeting the council proposed four amendments to the APC regarding Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs). The APC heard each of the amendments at their most recent meeting.

The County Commissioners had previously approved an Ordinance regarding CFO regulations and zoning.

Connersville City Council did not approve of the changes regarding where CFOs could be placed according to the new ordinance. Among other things, the council wanted to keep the minimum distance between the city and any CFO at 1 mile. The new regulations would have made it possible to have the operation just a quarter of a mile away from a home, church or other area of public use such as a park.

The city does not have the authority to pass any ordinances that would be enforced outside of their purview (city limits), so instead the four amendments were sent to the APC.

If the APC approved the amendments they would then go to the commissioners for approval at the county level, essentially starting the process over again with new boundaries.

One of the arguments to the new boundaries are that a CFO could negatively impact tourist destinations like the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary if they intruded upon the space.

APC Member Gary Naylor said even though the ordinance makes the minimum distance a quarter mile, he doesn’t think it would be possible to build a CFO that nearby the sanctuary.

“The houses that are outside of Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary play into affect,” said Naylor. “The CFO has to be set back from the closest house. By the time you get all those houses around the bird sanctuary, you could possibly be a mile and a half, two miles away.”

“We’re such a residential area that the homes prevent it from ever getting close to a school, a public place, a church. Our homes already keep that away from those,” Naylor continued.

APC member Robert Stewart said that putting a CFO that close to a residence is a quality of life issue and could hurt other non-farming business developments.

“We are here to protect the quality of life for individuals in Fayette County,” said Stewart. “And putting a 30,000 hog pig operation within a quarter mile of anyone’s residence is a quality of life issue. We want to bring jobs in here we want to bring people in here and they set them next to a hog lot they’re not coming. We just heard them talking a while ago about a gas station, we just talked about it and said quality of life was mentioned. Those people who built that home know you’re going to put a gas station there? Did I know you’re going to put a pig lot 1300 feet from my house when I bought out in Dun Grazing? No. I mean it works both ways.”

City Council member David Nutty spoke at the meeting where council proposed the amendments spoke in defense of the council’s decision and said he felt it was necessary to protect the water of the city and nearby areas.

Naylor asked Nutty if it would even be possible to put a CFO within a mile of the city and be in compliance with the ordinance the County Commissioners had passed.

Nutty said though the opportunity is limited, it would be possible.

Though it would be possible for someone to come before the board to put a CFO near the city, it would need to be approved by the county to be placed as they would need a special exception.

Naylor said he expects the county to keep the city’s wishes in mind when hearing a CFO proposal even if they don’t have to abide by it.

APC Director Bill McDaniel said that an application for a CFO in the past had been turned down due to issues it might cause with water.

There is currently another application to place a CFO that is necessitating a revisit or the regulations and zoning districts to place it, or see if it can be placed in the county.

Vivian Himelick spoke in opposition to CFO’s presenting cases form Hendricks and Bartholomew Counties that had gone to the Indiana Supreme Court regarding CFO’s near homes.

Himelick said that in the cases presented people had reported health problems related to living so near a CFO.

The Right to Farm Act has given the basis for the courts to side with the CFO operators historically.

The votes on each of the ordinances came with confusion. Ordinance number one regarding a setback distance of one mile between a CFO and the city of Connersville and Glenwood received a 4-3 vote with Deron Price, Naylor and Bill Macke voting no.

The second amendment maintaining the minimum setback distance to a public use area at one mile also received a 4-3 vote Brian Durham, Macke and Naylor as no votes.

The third amendment would have made a minimum setback distance to a rural subdivision to one mile. This was the same 4-3 vote as the second amendment.

Following the third vote and with only one left to vote on it was brought to the APC’s attention that the vote required a majority of the total board members (5) to pass an ordinance and not a majority of those present. This meant all of the amendments that had previously been believed to pass had actually failed.

The final amendment keeping the minimum setback distance to a residence at 1620 feet also failed 4-3 with the same vote as amendments 2 and 3.

As the amendments all failed they will go back to the City Council of Connersville where they can then adopt the amendments into city code, but they will carry no legal weight as the city can not govern outside of their purview.

After the meeting Naylor clarified a comment he made during the meeting in which he said that the amendments would have “killed commercial farming in the area.”

“There is an application in process right now. It’s the first application in 10 years since the newest ordinance had been put into affect,” Naylor said. “My argument is the reason there has only been one in 10 years brave enough to even try it is because that ordinance created such impossible means of accomplishment to receive that permit. All I wanted to see us do was create an ordinance to allow our current farming operations to expand within their boarders, but not create an ordinance so free that we would encourage corporate, large operations to come in here and own property.”
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