On Thursday, Ball State student Angela Lankford and other members of the Keep Delaware County Clean initiative plan to protest against the building of a proposed factory hog farm. The group will to go to the Delaware County Courthouse to protest the farm at 11 a.m. It is expected to last an hour.
The protest was prompted by Delaware County Commissioners removing a building permit hold against a proposed farm that would house 10,500 hogs. This decision comes two weeks after commissioners decided to reaffirm the hold. Earlier this week, however, state officials approved the farm.
Blackford County resident Rhett Light previously filed paperwork and met zoning qualifications to build a confined feeding operation (CFO) near Delaware County Road 1270-North. He sent a letter of notice to neighbors, who immediately expressed their concerns. Those for and against the farm explained their positions at a March 8 county council meeting.
Lankford spoke against the farm at the meeting. She currently lives on Ball State’s campus, but her family lives one mile from the proposed site.
“This issue is very frustrating and we are going in circles,” Lankford said. “The commissioners told us at the last meeting, March 20th, that they would hold the building permits until zoning was in place for Delaware County.”
Lankford feels that county commissioners have let her and county residents down. She says commissioners cited fear of legal action against the county if they didn’t end the hold. The commissioners refused to release who was threatening legal action.
“I am very disappointed with the commissioners,” Lankford said. “They had the ability to deny this and they did not because they got scared.”
On Tuesday, Lankford, an environmental lawyer and other members of the Keep Delaware County Clean initiative had a two hour meeting with Marta Moody, executive director of Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission, to discuss reasons for ending the hold and zoning plans for the farm. Moody was open to zoning suggestions, but hesitant to speak in detail to the group. She took note of the group’s presentation and promised to present the information to commissioners.
“We wanted to have a professional with us that way we could provide more information on what the county can do as far as making zoning since they seem to not know what they can and can't do,” Lankford said.
Lankford says Keep Delaware County Clean is preparing to ask commissioners to again consider enacting a building permit hold. She believes there is still hope in stopping the proposed farm.
“Next, we will go into the appeal process through the environmental adjudication court,” Lankford said. “It can be a long process but could potentially come out in our favor and temporarily pause anything with the CFO in fear that it could be appealed.”
Lankford says her family is disheartened by this situation. Her parents are currently making updates to their home. They want to keep making updates. But the family says it fears the farm would lower property values, erasing the value gained by home improvements. She says her neighbors also have expressed fear of losing property value.
Lankford and Keep Delaware County Clean have teamed up with the Hoosier Environmental Council and the League of Women Voters to set up an educational workshop for officials and the community. The event will be held on April 26 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Lankford says the workshop will highlight the dangers of CFOs and the rights of property owners. The county commissioners were invited to attend, but each denied their invitation.
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