The issue of an auction facility along U.S. 27 will soon go before a judge, essentially pitting agribusiness against rural living.

Judge April Drake scheduled a hearing at 9:30 a.m. June 6 in Circuit Court to consider John and Tammy Tackett’s appeal of Wayne County Board of Zoning Appeals decisions last September permitting a general merchandise and equipment consignment auction facility and allowing it to have livestock auctions.

Midway Auction Barn LLC has since purchased 22 acres split from a 61-acre parcel. The land is on the east side of U.S. 27 north of Bockhofer Road and is immediately north of the Tacketts’ property.

Both sides have filed briefs. The Tacketts claim an auction facility will interfere with their ability to live in peace and tranquility, with safety and with the local character. Ron Cross, the county attorney, responded that the BZA decisions are supported by evidence and are appropriate.

“As taxpayers and the length of residency we have enjoyed, it surprised us to find out how little regard the BZA has for its longtime tax-paying residents,” the Tacketts wrote in their brief. They said the county’s No. 1 priority should be preserving farmland and the rural living community.

The Tacketts raise concerns about leaking fluids contaminating soil, diminished property values, noise and increased traffic on U.S. 27. They say an agribusiness is not consistent with the area’s rural lifestyle.

The BZA response claims that the auction facility perfectly fits the Wayne County Comprehensive Master Plan’s emphasis on strengthening and diversifying the county’s agriculture industry, including with agribusinesses.

The response also indicates the Tacketts are asserting opinions and hypotheticals and that some of their concerns fall under other agencies’ jurisdictions. For example, traffic concerns are considered by the Indiana Department of Transportation, environmental concerns are considered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and drainage issues are considered by the county’s drainage board.

The brief says that the BZA found the Tacketts’ concerns either insufficient or adequately addressed by regulations the BZA placed on the facility. It asks Drake to show deference to the BZA’s discretion.

The hearing will come more than a year after Midway Auction Barn petitioned for a special exception to build the facility on a Helm Road location south of Williamsburg. The BZA tabled the petition during May, then discussed it during the June 8, 2023, meeting. Eventually, the BZA denied that petition during its July 13, 2023, meeting.

Midway Auction Barn later filed its petition concerning the U.S. 27 location and received BZA approval during a Sept. 14, 2023, meeting. John Tackett spoke during that meeting against the auction facility.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 22 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.