Those in favor of — or opposed to — a request to operate a livestock auction facility in northern Wayne County can have their questions and opinions heard Thursday night.

Wayne County’s Board of Zoning Appeals will conduct a public hearing at 6 p.m. May 11 in the administration building’s lower-level conference room at 401 E. Main St. in Richmond.

Owners Elmer Jr. and Emma Glick and Jonas Sr. and Fannie Esh, and applicant Omer S. Kauffman, are seeking a special exception to operate the auction in rural Williamsburg.

The property is about 2,500 feet east of North Centerville Road. The proposed facility would be about 680 feet north of Helm Road. It’s on about 22.5 acres in an A-1 Agricultural District.

Max Smith, a current Wayne County councilor and former local Farm Bureau president, said he sees concerns and benefits that come with such a proposal.

Smith sees the potential value of a livestock auction that could benefit the business owner as well as the larger farming community.

Although there previously were many livestock auction sites nearby, Smith said, today’s nearest options might be in Knightstown and Portland. These entrepreneurs see a need and want to fill the gap, he said, noting a Wayne County produce auction has been very beneficial for farmers and shoppers.

However, Smith said he also sees the efforts that neighboring owners of The Barn at Helm have put into their farm that grows more than 80 varieties of flowers, nearly year-round floral design business and agritourism destination. They have raised concerns on social media about potential negative impacts to their operations from a neighboring business.

In their eighth season, Julie and Tim Frame offer amenities such as concerts, workshops, u-pick flower opportunities and scenic locations for photography.

Smith said BZA members might want to ask about the number of and types of livestock that could be on the property, and whether animals would be housed beyond the sale day.

He said Indiana has a good right-to-farm law already in place, and farmers need freedom to produce food, fiber and energy, because that work can also produce dust, smells and traffic.

However, he said BZA members also could consider the potential impacts of a neighboring livestock auction on the Frames’ existing business.

Smith said he expects the discussion could generate a lot of interest, and BZA members might table the matter if they believe they need more information about the auction’s operations or additional time for evaluation.  

Those who can’t attend the meeting can send comments in writing about the BZA 2023-18 petition in care of Laura Miller in Wayne County Planning and Zoning’s office. Options include or delivering them to the county administration building before 5 p.m. Thursday. (The office is closed from noon-1 p.m.)

The other petition on Thursday’s agenda seeks a variance of use in western Wayne County’s Jefferson Township.

Owners Brian H. and Pamala K. Grandison and applicant Elam Lapp want to use an existing building to manufacture shed kits, with some outside storage and no retail, on a 75-acre farm just north of Heiney Road. The building would be nearly 1,600 feet east of Treaty Line Road. More than half the land is in an M-3 Rural Industrial District; the other acres are in the A-1 Agricultural District.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 10 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.