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Dispute comes back to zoning boards

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Lawyers have been busy for the past month in preparation for a zoning hearing on Monday night.

Attorneys for both sides of a dispute have been sending papers to Area Planning Director Bill MacDaniel giving reasons why a small plot of ground either should be designated a public recreation area or why it should not be. If the Area Planning Commission and Board of Zoning agrees to the request, it could block the development of a confined animal feeding operation by a nearby farming operation.

In MacDaniel’s staff report, he states that he is giving an unfavorable recommendation on the proposal.

Mark and Dena J. Bills constructed a small shelter on their property at 5554 N. Co. Road 850 W, on the western edge of Posey Township, and placed a picnic table under it. The area is graveled. A sign at the entrance states the public may use it from May to October. The Bills have asked the county to grant them a special exception to the agricultural zoning classification, designating it as a public recreation area.

Attorneys for Andrew Dora have filed objections on his behalf. He has received approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to put a 5,000-head swine feeding operation on his family’s farm, next to the Bills property. His plan also needs approval from county zoning authorities, but consideration on that has not been scheduled. County zoning regulations prohibit a CAFO within one mile of a public recreation area.

A hearing on the Bills’ petition had been scheduled for July 8. However, that hearing delayed one month at the request of MacDaniel, who said he needed more time to prepare for it. 

Dora’s attorneys have filed paperwork stating that the Bills structure does not meet standards for a public use area. Among objections stated are that designated parking spaces are too small and that the driveway in and out is not large enough. The attorneys also submitted projected financials for Dora, stating that allowing the special exception would cause him “actual economic harm.”

“... Bills’ tactics here are quite clearly shown to be an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Fayette County Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals in an attempt to to accomplish ... stopping Dora from operating his farm for animal agriculture. That attempt is not only intellectually dishonest, it is contrary to the Comprehensive Plan, the applicable zoning rules, Indiana State Code, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Right to Farm act.”

The Area Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m., followed by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Both meetings are in Connersville City Hall, 500 Central Ave. The public may attend.