GREENCASTLE -- A standing-room-only crowd was sharply divided over the issue of a proposed gun club in rural Cloverdale at Monday's meeting of the Putnam County Board of Zoning Appeals.
There was no division among the board, though, as the members voted unanimously to deny an application for a zoning variance.
The land in question is located at 7952 East CR 850S, Cloverdale and is currently owned by Cammie Goldman. Debora Cheek of Danville was the applicant for the variance.
The board's decision hinged on the land being zoned as A1 agricultural. According to the Putnam County Zoning Ordinance, "This district is established to protect suitable land for active agricultural production in Putnam County. Agricultural production is recognized as the primary economic activity in Putnam County, and certain lands are particularly suited to such uses because of their size, configuration, soil, topography and location in relation to other land uses."
As an A1 district, permitted uses for the land include field crop farm, truck crop farm, animal husbandry, kennels, stables, forestry, veterinary office, nursery or greenhouse, grazing, public utilities, feed stores, confined feeding operations, spreading or injecting animal wastes and fertilizer storage.
BZA President Brian Gilmartin said the only way the board could grant a variance was for the applicant's attorney to show the present use of the property allowed was not reasonably applicable.
"What is it about this area that it cannot be used as zoned?" Gilmartin asked.
Cheek's representative Ben Comer disagreed with the board's interpretation, pointing out this land's unique combination of forest, open fields and hills made this site uniquely suited for the club.
"We've searched Putnam County, and this particular site is the only one that meets all (our) criteria," Comer said.
Comer also brought in a pair of experts, one from Camp Atterbury and one from the National Rifle Association, to speak about the safety and the site's suitability. In the end, these arguments were moot.
"This place can be used for farming, and I think it should be," said Delbert Brewer, the objectants' attorney.
The crowd packing the commissioners court at the courthouse annex was divided over the issue, with about half objecting and half supporting the proposed club. Most of the objectants were neighbors concerned about the noise and safety issues the gun club would bring with it.