A livestock auction facility in Wayne County made sense, but a Helm Road location adjacent to The Barn at Helm flower farm and event space drew opposition.

Comments to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals often followed that line of thinking: The idea would benefit county farmers, but that location didn’t work. The BZA on July 13 rejected a variance-of-use request from Omer Kauffman and Midway Auction Barn LLC to allow the auction facility there, indicating negative impacts on neighbors were too significant.

Kauffman is back on the BZA’s agenda for its Sept. 14 meeting with a new proposed location. He has requested a variance of use to allow a general merchandise and equipment consignment auction and a second variance of use for a livestock auction on a 61-acre property along U.S. 27 north of Bockhofer Road near the Randolph County line. Land owners Levi J. and Sadie S. Beiler join the two petitions.

A variance of use enables the BZA to assign commitments — a list of operating requirements or limitations — to the use.

During previous comments to the BZA, Kauffman said the Helm Road location was chosen because of availability. It also was not directly on a main thoroughfare, but it was easily accessible from U.S. 35 to the east and Centerville Road to the west, providing access to Interstate 70 and U.S. 40. The new location north of Fountain City would use U.S. 27 as a connector to east-west thoroughfares both south and north of the location.

The auction would provide Wayne County farmers with a site closer than Knightstown or Portland where they can buy and sell livestock. Several county farmers told the BZA members that they need such a facility.

Original plans called for a building that included a sales ring with 300 permanent seats, plus other amenities, such as a lunch concession, in addition to a barn for the sale animals.

The public hearings for the two auction petitions are on agenda for the BZA’s 6 p.m. Sept. 14 meeting in the chambers of the Wayne County Administration Building, 401 E. Main St., Richmond. 

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A version of this article appeared in the September 6 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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