A standing room only crowd looked on as the Putnam County Board of Zoning approved a request for a special exception for a Livestock Auction Barn in Morton.
The approval came with several requirements based on concerns from the board members and from local residents.
The facility was purchased by Stan Gildersleeve earlier this year. It was originally built around 1951 and was permitted as a non-conforming use in its location after countywide zoning went into effect in 1991. It lost its "grandfather" status when it became vacant for six months. The new sale barn being built to replace the old structure has gone through inspections. The license of the new facility is the same type of license held by the previous owner for years.
The first discussion concerned the acreage of the facility which is 4.75 acres. A member of the audience immediately disputed that number. Board president Brian Gilmartin told the crowd of mostly cattle farmers that the public discussion took place at the last meeting and this action was for the boards review only. "I don't want to be rude to any of you, but I may refuse to take questions and I won't take comments," he stated.
The motion to approve was passed 4-0 based on a number of conditions. These include specific hours of operations, waste removal, number of animals on site, parking, drainage and truck traffic.
The new owners are required to maintain the hours of operation as: Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. with an extension to 9 p.m. on Tuesday sale days; Wednesday through Friday the hours are from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. with no business conducted on Saturday and Sunday. Signs must be posted with the hours stated. Board members were insistent that the noise level be kept to a minimum with no truck traffic after 9 p.m. and any traffic entering or leaving the site after 8 p.m. must be on the west side of the property. All deliveries must also use CR 490 W for entry and exit onto CR 500 W.
The number of livestock onsite is a maximum of 500 with an average of 350 with no animal being kept on site over 48 hours with an exception for 72 hours.
Board members were assured that an engineering report claiming that the new facility would provide better drainage, was accurate. A retaining wall is part of the requirement to improve drainage. Insect control is required on a weekly basis.
No parking on any roads surrounding the property is permitted. The facility can handle 62 vehicles, not more than four semi trailers and not more than 16 livestock trailers at any one time.
The board also required that all state regulations be met and that no other sales take place on the site. Board member Larry Parker commented, "I've been to the sale barn in Rockville and I want to be sure that no antique or craft sales go on outside of the building." Gildersleeve assured the board that would not happen.
Before the motion was finalized, Gilmartin asked local Morton residents in the audience if they could live with the permit with the conditions attached. One member replied, "Am I happy? No. We'll just see how it works out. I just hope they are as good a neighbor as they say they will be."
Former Zoning Board member Dennis O'Hair asked the board how they were going to enforce the conditions attached. Gilmartin informed him that the county does not have a building inspector who checks for violations. "If people report problems, the board will review it and if necessary revoke the permit," he retorted. "That would probably lead to a lawsuit. Hopefully, we won't have any problems."
The only other business for the evening was a request for a building permit which was withdrawn by Roland and Norma Justice following a discussion of required lot size.