Neighbors file suit to block 2,000-hog facility

A central Indiana farmer faces a lawsuit from neighbors who want to block plans for a facility where some 2,000 hogs would be raised.

The lawsuit filed by Robert and Vickie Thayer asks a Bartholomew County court to reverse a county zoning board's decision in July to give farmer Jeff Shoaf permission to build the confined feeding operation, or CFO, a couple of miles from the town of Hope.

The lawsuit maintains that the board wrongly allowed the hog facility within a half-mile of the small crossroads community of Old St. Louis, violating a buffer zone from residential areas set by county ordinances, The Republic of Columbus reported.

Shoaf's attorney, Kristin Whittington, said he properly received permission from the zoning board.

"We followed the process to be able to construct a new [CFO], just like any other livestock producer across the state of Indiana would have to do in their county," she said.

The zoning board voted 3-1 to approve Shoaf's proposal despite the objections of some nearby residents, who raised worries that the hog facility would lower the water table, cause odors and increase truck traffic near their homes in the rural area about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.

Robert Thayer said the proposed hog facility would have a negative impact on his property and the properties in neighboring Old Saint Louis.

"I'm sure it's not going to help property values any," he said. "You hear all of the things it can do with the groundwater and the smell."

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