BOONVILLE, INDIANA — It’s a plot of land off State Road 61 five miles north of Boonville filled with trees, brush and controversy.
“We can’t let this happen in our backyard,” Josh Cobb, a neighbor in the community, said.
“The proximity to homes, the water contamination, potential viruses, our property values will drop,” Susan Schmitt, another concerned resident, said.
Prime Foods is hoping to turn this land into a contained animal feeding operation, or a CAFO, used to farm chickens and eggs, but this proposal has drawn the ire of many living nearby.
“I do believe Prime Foods has good intentions, however, there’s no regulation in Warrick County to regulate such a facility,” Schmitt said.
“If they don’t do what they say, there’s no accountability,” Ronald Schmitt, another resident, said. “There’s nothing in place in our government to hold them accountable.”
In an October Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, residents made their voices heard in fierce opposition to the new facility’s location, even after Prime Foods said it has technology to prevent many of the concerns raised.
“We don’t have to be the bad guys,” Cobb said. “We don’t have to be divided. This could be a good thing for the community in a better spot.”
Wednesday morning, Indiana State Rep. Ron Bacon, R.-District 75, stopped in Boonville, letting the concerned residents know he is on their side. While he isn’t opposed to Prime Foods or the idea of a CAFO, both of which he praised for helping stimulate Indiana’s economy, Bacon said the location is the problem.
“I feel like there are a lot more places even within the district or even in the State of Indiana that we could look at that wouldn’t have that much of a problem and I’d be happy to help them,” he said.
According to Bacon, he has met with Prime Foods and has sent them a letter asking them to reconsider the CAFO’s location.
“The community is really seriously stating how they feel,” he said. “They’re taking time off toe come during the day and they’ve taken time to spend 10 hours in a meeting.”
“He supports this facility and he still thinks it’s a bad location, so to me, that just says ultimately their supports know it’s a bad location, so surely Prime Foods knows it’s a bad location,” Cobb said.
Bacon said he is willing to work with Prime Foods to find other locations in his district or around the state that would be better suited and less problematic to neighbors.
The board will meet again later this month to vote on the proposal. Even if the BZA approves the plans, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Natural Resources then needs to give their approval.