Letters to the editor

Disappointed in the Newton County BZA

To Editor, Newton County Enterprise

As long-time residents of Newton County, we and hundreds of our fellow citizens are deeply concerned and disappointed with the way the Newton County BZA handled our citizen petition that sought the BZA’s review of its special zoning exception that has allowed Natural Prairie to build a polluting dairy CAFO (“concentrated animal feeding operation”) in our historic Beaver Lake. The BZA granted the zoning approval without fully researching the serious threats to our air and well water and then denied us a fair opportunity to present the evidence of these threats at a fair, open, and transparent public hearing, despite the BZA’s legal obligation to do so.

We love this community, our home, and our neighbors. We are enriched by the local wildlife, nature, and recreational resources that are endangered by the CAFO. The anxiety that we feel over the CAFO’s threat to our air and drinking water is constant and well-founded. Indeed, our fears are becoming a reality.

Lately we have been experiencing such foul odors from the CAFO that we can’t even sit on our own front porch and watch the sunset. Also, recent groundwater sampling reported to IDEM confirms that the CAFO is already contaminating the aquifer that supplies our drinking water. These sample results showing high nitrate levels are available in the IDEM virtual file cabinet at: https://vfc.idem.in.gov/DocumentSearch.aspx.

We hope that the BZA’s mandatory annual reviews of the CAFO’s operations will cause the BZA to reconsider its position and take this matter seriously.

Until then, we and our neighbors will keep fighting. This issue is far from over. There are still two cases pending, one at state level challenging the CAFO’s IDEM permit, and the other at the federal level seeking to enforce Natural Prairie’s unlawful filling of ditches and wetlands. . We appreciate all the continued support of this community. Please watch the “No Beaver Lake Dairy Factory” on Facebook for updates.

Thom and Debra Cutts

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