Facing the opposition

Proponents and opponents of the proposed confined egg laying operation near Boonville packed the Warrick County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Monday night. The marathon meeting lasted 10 hours, finally letting out at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.

On Monday at 6 p.m., a few hundred people crammed into the Commissioner’s Meeting room, buckled in and prepared to listen and to speak. A total of ten hours later, the meeting ended.

The Warrick County Board of Zoning Appeals met in their regular meeting Monday to hear discussion on the only item on their agenda, the proposal from Prime Foods, LLC for a special use permit to construct an egg laying facility north of Boonville. The issue came before the board last month after heavy criticism from the community, but Prime Foods requested the board grant the company and their attorneys a continuance in order to comply with regulations after amending their original application. The board agreed and moved the discussion to their October meeting.

For the last month, Prime Foods and their attorneys, the community and the attorneys representing residents have been preparing their arguments for the meeting. At the opening of the meeting, the board entertained a motion from the remonstrators to dismiss the application under the allegation that the provided answers to questions in the application did not provide specific responses. The board discussed the motion but ultimately decided that there was no authority provided that would allow the board to dismiss the application for that reason. The board voted to deny the motion to dismiss.

The board then heard a motion made by remonstrators before the meeting to bifurcate the meeting — to divide the meeting into two parts. To do so, would force the applicants to give their presentation at the meeting, but the meeting would adjourn in order to give the remonstrators an additional month to prepare their rebuttal case to present at the board’s next meeting. The board noted that the possibility to split the hearing has never been included in their rules. The boards rules only allow for an applicant to request the board to continue their case until the next meeting. The board ultimately voted to deny the motion to bifurcate the meeting.

Before moving forward into the presentations and comments, board chairman, Jeff Valiant, announced that the board would waive any rules pertaining to time to allow everyone the opportunity to speak and for each side to provide as much information on record as possible. He also announced that the board would not make a decision on the case until next months meeting. He said the board would table the decision to next month in order to give the board ample time to digest the information provided at the meeting.

“I would want to give the board ample time to review everything brought forth tonight,” Valiant said. “I don’t think any one of us wants to rush into a decision.”

The meeting moved forward with Prime Foods attorney Chris Wischer leading the presentation for the application, covering the questions about how the operation would function and how it would affect surrounding areas. After the presentation, the board was given an opportunity to ask questions and any remonstrators in favor of the operation were given the opportunity to speak before opposition attorney Anthony Long gave a presentation in the case against the operation. Then remonstrators against the operation had the opportunity to speak on record. Finally, representatives of Prime Foods were given the opportunity to answer any questions posed in opposition.

Finally, at 3:52 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Warrick Chamber account on Twitter announced that the meeting had officially ended.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m.

Wyatt Squires is a staff writer for The Standard. Before coming to Warrick, Wyatt has worked as a reporter in Jackson, Greene and Knox counties in Indiana.

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