2018-04-11 / Front Page

Residents cry foul to lack of action about CAFOs

By Debbie Lowe
Staff writer

Carroll County Commissioners heard loud and clear from a group of citizens that they should be taking steps to at least restrict Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) if not issue a moratorium against building new facilities at the April 2 meeting. Gary Wolfe of Democrat Township presented the County leaders with a petition signed by at least 37 residents who want changes made in how the county manages, or does not manage, the number of CAFOs and their locations.

Wolfe said he has two CAFO buildings bordering the back of his land and now another two are proposed which would be located in front of his property. He said a vast number of truckloads of manure and other material are hauled from each building each year.

“This is going to devalue my property,” Wolfe said. “I think you Commissioners should suspend Area Plan permits until changes are made in the zoning ordinance.

“My concern is the health hazard,” he continued. “Don’t you think this needs to stop?”

A community member in the audience said he can stand in his yard and see 13 hog buildings. He said there is only one resident who owns barns living near them.

Commissioners’ attorney Ted Johnson said the county leaders could not legally institute a moratorium against building CAFOs.

However, community member Shirley Inman advised other counties have issued moratoriums and some counties have used their Boards of Health to address CAFO issues related to health concerns. Inman said some counties have not been successful with the moratorium idea, but said just issuing one would give Commissioners time to decide how best to address the many concerns of county residents.

“You have to do something to make a start,” Inman said. “You’ve got to get your Board of Health on board.”

Inman also stated residents with similar situations in Bartholomew County were able to receive property tax reductions due to living near CAFOs.

Assessor Neda Kay Duff, who was in the audience, said the time to appeal property tax assessments is after the Form 11 is received. She said assessments for houses are based upon how much money for which similar houses are sold. It was noted for assessments to be lowered in the area of the CAFO, a resident would have to sell their property at a loss.

“The way you do things ain’t right,” hog farmer Larry Meador told the Assessor. “Enough is enough.”

Meador directed his next comment to the Commissioners.

“I make a request that you take some action,” he said.

An audience member said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is responsible for CAFOs and how they are managed.

“It’s my opinion we’re not going to get any help from IDEM,” Commissioner Bill Brown said.

“Why haven’t you done anything (about CAFOs) in the past two years?” Clay Township resident Steve Bough asked.

Brown said the problems have “been going on for 15 years.”

Bough challenged Johnson to prove the Commissioners cannot issue a moratorium. Bough also said a county government can issue more restrictive guidelines for CAFOs than IDEM or the state. Zoning Administrator Doug Wagner agreed.

Bough said when a pre-application is approved by the Zoning Administrator, IDEM “rubber stamps” the final approval based on what the local zoning administrator approves on the pre-application. He said pre-applications are many times faulty, not completed and contain errors such as wrong addresses and dates. But he said an agricultural based group fills out the preapplications for the owner of the buildings and the form is “rubber stamped” by local authorities.

“It’s a rubber stamp policy,” Bough said.

Wagner advised Commissioners they must request the Area Plan Commission develop amendments to the zoning ordinance if they want changes made. Brown said he promises to address the setbacks, road conditions during CAFO construction and the distance between hog barns and other people’s buildings.

The next Commissioners meting will be April 16 at 9 a.m.

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