While commissioners Jim Baird, Gene Beck and Kristina Warren heard from several supporters of the Morton Sale Barn and its new owner, some nearby neighbors voiced concerns that the operation would grow into a messy, noisy nuisance.
Hubert Crodian, who has lived near the original sale barn since the 1960s, said he is concerned about water run-off from the improvements on the property.
And LaConda Lambermont said she is worried that property values will drop for the residences near the sale barn, since no one will want to buy a house next to that kind of business. The odor from the livestock is also a "significant concern," she said.
And both Crodian and Lambermont said they were concerned the property would become a livestock lot, where cattle would remain for days waiting for a sale while generating a lot of waste, noise and odor.
County planner Kim Hyten addressed those concerns from a permit stance.
An engineer has determined that the groundwater run-off from the site would be significantly less than what it was with the old sale barn, due to the new building design and a retaining wall.
While the former sale barn, built around 1951 or 1952, was permitted as a non-conforming use in its location after countywide zoning went into effect in 1991, it did lose 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.
Hyten also stated that a letter from the state licensing program director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health has identified the new license application for the Morton facility as a livestock auction market, not as a stockyard where animals could be held to await an auction.
This is the same type of license now held and is the same type the previous property owner at Morton held for years.
Resident Don Lambermont told the commissioners the old sale barn handled local cattle in a reasonable amount.
"We're not against the sale barn," he said. "We're against a feed lot coming next to the house."
If the business is for a local market, Lambermont said, he doesn't have a problem with it. But when they bring in livestock semis from out-of-state, and have large trucks idling late at night, that is undesirable.
Crodian said he is not against the sale barn as such, but he thinks it will turn into a livestock yard.
Property owner Stan Gildersleeve said he does not know how many animals are going to arrive for the sales, but when the animals come, they can't be turned away.
"As far as having 1,000 or 1,500 a week, I guarantee they won't be there," Gildersleeve said.
The average number of livestock is 300-400 each week, he said. Every so often it will be higher or lower.
He also addressed the cleanliness and odor concerns raised by neighbors.
"We're trying to build a facility so it's easy cleaning, easy to keep clean," he said. "We're trying to do everything in our power to keep things from running off."
Speaking in support of Gildersleeve and the sale barn were Bill Eberle, Robert New, Boyd Pickel, Max Pickel, Doug Baker and Jake Zaring.
Morton property owner and Clinton Township resident Dennis O'Hair said he was more concerned about the zoning process for the property, since it is only now going through the approval process when county officials knew it was a non-conforming use last fall when the new construction began.
"This isn't right. This amount of cattle being this close to a kitchen table? Give me a break," O'Hair said. "I know we've got to have this. I know Stan and he'll do the best he can. But somewhere in this process, it's just not right."
Planner Hyten said he believes the property should have been zoned A2 agriculture when zoning was instituted, so the current request to change the zoning to A2 is appropriate. But still, the sale barn will be a non-conforming use in that zone and would have to seek a special exception from the county Board of Zoning Appeals.
It is at that point, before the zoning board, that neighbors can seek some conditions on the sale barn operations.
The commissioners agreed that they were only voting on the zoning change to A2 during Monday's meeting.
Baird noted the restrictions can be worked out when the special exception is sought from the zoning board.
Beck said he sees the big issues as drainage and keeping the barn clean, but he thinks the sale barn operators will do that.
The commissioners agreed by unanimous vote to approve the rezoning.
In other business, the commissioners: