Judge weighs decision on motion to dismiss


Two motions to dismiss a lawsuit against the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals for its decision to grant a special exception to allow construction of a horse barn on property zoned lake residential received a hearing Wednesday.

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter, however, did not make a decision about the motions at the end of the hearing, opting to take them under advisement.

The lawsuit was brought by the Lake and Forest Club against the BZA and Beulah Hamilton and her daughter, Teresa Thompson, on Oct. 4, 2018.

Hamilton and Thompson plan to build a home with a 60-by-90-foot horse barn and a 60-by-80-foot indoor riding arena for horses on 6.34 acres about 500 feet across from the Lake and Forest Club, just east of Brownstown.

The petition for judicial review filed in circuit court by Seymour attorney Tom Lantz contends the BZA did not allow the association enough time to seek an expert to testify at the Sept. 11 hearing, where the request was approved. The plaintiffs also contend the BZA didn’t follow county ordinances, should have considered the project a confined animal feeding operation and that it’s too close to residents and the lake.

On Nov. 18, county attorney Susan Bevers filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on behalf of the BZA. A similar motion was filed Nov. 23 by Columbus attorney Ann C. Coriden, who represents Hamilton and Thompson.

The motion filed by Bevers contends the Lake and Forest Club did not file the BZA board record of the decision by its Nov. 5 deadline as required by state statute. The association also did not request more time to file it, according to court documents.

The record was filed Nov. 29 by the Lake and Forest Club.

The defendants also contend the Lake and Forest Club failed to file a verified petition as required by statute, according to court documents.

In December 2017, the county adopted a new zoning ordinance in which all livestock in a residential zoning district must be approved per a special exception so the board has a chance to review drainage, manure management and the site plan as well as how many animals, site location and other issues, Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said.

The barn and arena, which would house four horses — two permanent and two temporarily — also would require Thompson and Hamilton to request an exemption if they ever wanted to have more than four horses. The property also will include a manure compost building, according to Thompson’s manure management plan submitted to the board.

That building is planned to be a 12-by-36-foot structure with walls 4 to 5 feet tall on a 20-by-36-foot concrete pad. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires structures to be 100 feet from watersheds.

The manure management plan expects the horses to produce 1,250 to 1,890 feet of manure each year, and it will be removed from the site along with horse bedding.

Lantz did not respond to an email for comment by press time.

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