HANCOCK COUNTY — Planning officers are considering a rule change that might enable authorities to think about, on a case-by-case foundation, requests to course of animals in agricultural areas.
County laws presently solely enable animal merchandise processing in locations zoned industrial common, and solely after a particular exception is granted by the Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals.
The apply will not be permitted in areas with agricultural zoning, famous Mike Dale, govt director of the Hancock County Area Plan Commission.
“I’ve said to the plan commission many times before, I do consider agriculture as an industrial zoning district,” Dale instructed plan fee members at their latest assembly. “There’s heavy equipment, there’s noise, there’s dust and so on. And so I would suggest that you would entertain the idea of allowing animal products processing, not just as an option in the IG (industrial general) zone, but also as an option in the county’s agricultural A zone.”
Such an modification would enable the county’s board of zoning appeals to listen to requests for animal processing from agriculturally zoned property homeowners and weigh any considerations from neighbors.
“Some cases might be worthy of approving, others may not, but at least it gives them an avenue,” Dale stated.
One agricultural Hancock County landowner who’d like that avenue is Steve Rusche, who’s had about 35 acres in the southern a part of the county for over 25 years, the place he and his household increase livestock that they butcher and course of for their very own functions.
“There seems to be a growing need in the county for people who can do processing, especially people who are looking for one-off, what we call custom butchering,” Rusche stated. “We’re not looking for any retail sales or anything of that nature. Very small-scale.”
He famous meat lockers in the realm are booked a yr or two out.
Rusche added the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Board of Animal Health have been to his property and are happy along with his plans, however one field left to examine is to make sure he’s inside county zoning guidelines.
Along along with his land, the land round his is zoned agricultural as effectively.
“It’s probably unlikely we’re going to get rezoned to industrial for one small, little piece,” Rusche stated. “And we’re doing something we believe is an agriculture operation, has been forever — processing beef, hogs, deer. … We have experience doing it and we can do it the right way, the safe way. Hopefully it fills a need within the community as well.”
Plan fee members had been open to the rule change, particularly on the subject of properties just like the Rusches’.
“They’re extremely rural,” member Bill Spalding stated. “That would be a perfect area.”
Tom Nigh, president of the plan fee, agreed meat processing is extremely wanted in the realm. It was one of many motivations mentioned earlier this summer time for a business meat processing facility accredited on industrially zoned land in Maxwell.
“I know there’s a real demand,” Nigh stated.
He additionally agreed it wouldn’t be sensible to alter the Rusches’ land to industrial in order to pave the way in which for the zoning appeals board to think about an exception for animal processing.
“We don’t want to spot-zone,” Nigh stated.
A public listening to on amending the county’s zoning code to permit animal processing to be thought-about as a particular exception in agriculturally zoned areas is ready for the plan fee’s assembly later this month, which is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26 on the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place, Greenfield. The plan fee will vote to ship the proposed change with a constructive, detrimental or no suggestion to the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, which may approve the modification in November. That would, on the soonest, enable the board of zoning appeals to start out contemplating agriculturally zoned properties for particular exceptions for animal processing in January 2022, because the board doesn’t meet in December.
“Hopefully this is not a controversial thing,” Rusche stated. “This seems like an ag activity in an ag-zoned area.”