A decision might be made Thursday as to whether a livestock auction can open next to an agritourism destination, and it’s unclear whether a previously seen standing-room-only crowd will return to share its views.

Two of the five members of Wayne County’s Board of Zoning Appeals weren’t present at the May meeting where two petitions were to be heard. 

The crowd included a broad cross-section of residents, ranging from farmers from the Amish and English communities to customers of The Barn at Helm, a flower farm and concert venue on Helm Road in Williamsburg. Its owners have expressed concerns on social media about a livestock auction opening next door. 

Thus, Wayne County’s attorney, Ron Cross, recommended the board table both petitions until its next meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 8, in the county administration building’s newly renovated council/commissioner chambers, 401 E. Main St., Richmond.

The board had a narrow quorum in May and could have decided the petitions’ fates, but a 3-0 vote would be required for each to be approved.

Steve Becker, Donald Berger and Vice Chair Randall Newman were present, while Cindy Hartman and Chair Kristen Ward were absent.

After seeking a show of hands to determine nearly all present were there for the livestock auction discussion, either to show support or opposition or to ask questions, Cross suggested it might be fairer to both parties to wait until more board members were present.

Newman said he agreed that it was best to try to do right by both parties for both petitions. 

Cross noted the dedication and regular attendance of BZA members at their meetings, saying it was unfortunate to have members absent at this particular hearing. He said there’d only been a couple times in his 20-plus years of advising the board that it didn’t have a quorum.

Proposals at a glance

If approved, Petition 18 would result in a new 120-foot-by-150-foot steel frame livestock auction barn to market cattle, horses, sheep, goats, fowl and other animals on scheduled days throughout the year.

The petitioners say the facilities are to be aesthetically pleasing with features such as a tree line for the east side of the property. 

They would start with a weekly or biweekly auction and could change as business grows. Auctions would be conducted in a live bidding ring between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The largest barn would include spaces for an entrance, office, lunch stand, sale ring, permanent seating for 300, ADA-approved restrooms and a space for vendor booths. A 120-foot-by-120-foot hoop barn would be used for animal housing during sale days.

A full-time manager and a few part-time employees would handle sale preparation and cleanup. Owners say they would follow all rules from Wayne County Health Department, Indiana State Board of Animal Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture.   

All traffic is to be accommodated with no need for visitors to park on or beside the public road, and a commercial septic system, site drainage plan and retention pond are planned, the application notes.

Owners say the auction offers opportunities for farmers, insurance agents, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs to gather. They also say auctions offer not only social interaction but can offer support for mental and physical health for the many isolated farm families in a stressful business. 

Meanwhile, Petition 19 seeks to allow the Lapp family to manufacture shed kits inside an existing building on Treaty Line Road in Hagerstown and then transport the kits to the customer to build.

The petitioners say their work would be far removed from other homes. However, three people indicated their opposition to that request at the May meeting.  

Thursday’s procedures at a glance

Those who wanted to oppose or show support for the petitions can either attend the June 8 meeting, email Laura Miller at Lauram@co.wayne.in.us, or deliver a letter to Miller at 401 E. Main St., Richmond. Residents also may call 765-973-9249 and briefly summarize their views.

Once those present have spoken, supplied information will be read into the record. All forms of communication will carry equal weight. 

Many of the emailed letters already received are quite lengthy, Miller said. She planned to forward all emails about the petitions to board members before their meeting so they have time to process the information.

Petition details

BZA 2023-18: Owners Elmer Jr. and Emma Glick, Jonas Sr. and Fannie Esh, and applicant Omer S. Kauffman seek a special exception to operate a livestock auction facility on about 22.5 acres in Green Township. The land is approximately 2,540 feet east of North Centerville Road. The proposed facility is approximately 680 feet north of Helm Road in an A-1 Agricultural District.

BZA 2023-19: Owners Brian H. and Pamala K. Grandison and applicants Elam and Becky Lapp seek a variance of use to manufacture shed kits in an existing building, with some outside storage and no retail, on a 75-acre farm in Jefferson Township about 635 feet north of Heiney Road. The building is about 1,585 feet east of Treaty Line Road, on 43 acres in the M-3 Rural Industrial District. The remaining nearly 32 acres are in the A-1 Agricultural District.

BZA 2023-21: Petition of Daniel S. and Linda B. Lapp for a variance of use to operate a small bulk food store and secondhand store with Amish clothing and baby items out of an existing 32-foot by 48-foot building at 8421 Clyde Oler Road, Williamsburg, A-1 Agricultural District, on about 5 acres.

BZA 2023-22: Petition of Stevie and Lavina S. Stoltzfus for a Variance of Use to sell outdoor poly furniture in an outside display area west of commercial greenhouses at 3225 Sowers Road, Greens Fork. A-1 Agricultural District, on 20 acres.

Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the June 7 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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