BOONVILLE, INDIANA — The Warrick County Board of Zoning Appeals is still reviewing a proposal from Prime Foods to build a contained animal feeding operation (CAFO) north of Boonville’s downtown, a plan that has ruffled the feathers of some living in the area.
Wednesday morning, State Rep. Ron Bacon, R.-District 75, stopped in Boonville to meet with some of the protestors concerned about the chicken farm, telling them he had sent a letter to Prime Foods, asking the company to reconsider the facility’s location.
Prime Foods COO Ronald Bennett tells Eyewitness News that Rep. Bacon and Prime Foods have had a very good relationship, but he did not feel it was Bacon’s place to make the announcement.
“He’s always been a friend of farming,” he said. “I was disappointed that he felt the need to hold a press conference while we were waiting on an independent board to make a ruling. To me, that’s using his power of his office, his local celebrity, to influence the board that’s largely independent.”
According to Bennett, the proposed site a few miles north of downtown Boonville has been thoroughly vetted and studied. The enxt step is to wait for the BZA’s decision.
Below is a statement from Bennett:
“Obviously we are disappointed that Representative Bacon chose to hold a press conference and pass opinion on our layer farm project. I think it was highly inappropriate for him to use his political office and local celebrity status to try to influence the decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals. They are an independent body. By design the members are appointed by three different county boards in order to maintain immunity from political pressure. Unfortunately, the group opposing this project has employed improper high pressure tactics from the very beginning in an effort to stop this project, and now Ron has gotten caught up in that. Representative Bacon and Prime Foods have always been supporters of each other, and we consider him a friend. He has stated that this is a good project but feels that the fears of the neighbors suggest it be in a different location. All of the evidence that is appropriate for the BZA to consider as to the propriety of this project and this location was presented at the hearing. Barraging the BZA members before the hearing with calls from remonstrators and applying pressure by politicians have no proper role to play in this process. I want to think if Representative Bacon was aware of the actions of some members of the group he spoke in support of today that he would have made a different choice. We anticipate that the BZA will make its decision based upon the merits as presented to them last week and look forward to that decision later this month.”