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New judge takes over CAFO appeal case

Makenna Mays, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 14, the Franklin County Board of Zoning Appeals voted 3-1 to allow a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) to build its barns near the Union County/Franklin County line. This came after the Area Plan Commission (APC) voted 4-1 to send an unfavorable recommendation to the BZA regarding the CAFO.

Many people spoke out against the CAFO as they were worried about the depletion of property values. This could then cause the county's property tax based to suffer, which would hurt all aspects of county government. Some were also concerned about the proximity of the CAFO to Brookville Lake as a manure spill could ruin the lake.

Since this vote, there has been a verified petition for judicial review and stay of the zoning decision. The summary of the petition states that only two qualified members of the five-member BZA voted to grant the petition for a Class 3 Restricted Commercial Farm Enterprise Conditional Use. According to the petition, the property is roughly 100 acres, located in Franklin County within a few miles of the reservoir, and between Bath Rd. and the Franklin/Union County line.

The majority of the property is located in a R-1 Residential Zoning District, and a smaller portion is zoned R-E Recreational. The petition states that even though the Franklin County Zoning Ordinance does not permit Class 3 Restricted Farm Enterprises in the R-1 Residential Zoning District, the BZA approved the conditional use for the entire property.

The petition claims as follows:

• The BZA's decision granting the Coopers' petition for conditional use is unsupported by factual findings

• The BZA's decision granting the Coopers' petition for conditional use violates section 80.06.04 of the ordinance which limits Class 3 Restricted Commercial Farm Enterprises to Agricultural, Industrial or R-E Recreational zones

• The BZA's decision granting the Coopers' petition for conditional use was not supported by sufficient votes of qualified BZA members

• The BZA's decision granting the Coopers' petition for conditional use is void due to the BZA's denial of due process during the March 14 hearing

The BZA, by counsel, Tammy R. Davis responded to the verified petition; however, no response was required. The BZA denied any and all wrongdoing.

The response went on to state that the BZA requests that petitioner's petition be denied in its entirety, that the petitioner takes nothing from its petition, and that the decision placed before the court by petitioner be upheld and affirmed in its entirety and for all other relief which is proper in the premises.

Judge Paul L. Freed of Fayette County will be handling the case. On May 22 at the Franklin County Council meeting, Area Plan Director Cindy Orschell was asked if the $5,000 additional appropriation request for the appeals court case on the CAFO was just a start. Orschell replied that she knew the case was going to be heard in Fayette County and that was all she knew for now.