County OKs animal processing in ag areas – The Daily Reporter

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Hancock County – Landlords in rural areas of the county can now obtain permission from officials to handle animals.

Previously, county rules only allowed processing of animal and animal products in general industrial zones designated for zoning, and only after Hancock County Council to resume zoning granted a special exception. Now, this council could also grant this exception in areas with agricultural division as well.

The Hancock County Board of Commissioners recently voted unanimously to approve the rule change after it was recommended by the county’s District Plan Committee earlier this fall.

“We are an agricultural community, and there is a shortage of meat processing places in the community,” said John Jessup, Chief Commissioner. “It provides an outlet for our local farmers to get the freshest meat at the market, to keep it in our local economy, and it’s better meat.”

Officials began considering a rule change for the first time after Steve Roach, who raises cattle in the county, expressed a desire to conduct a small butcher operation on his farm property. Days after the Commissioners allowed it, the Appeals Board granted Rusche’s request.

While Rusche sought the ability to treat animals on his property, he also noted a shortage and long wait for such services in the area.

“I think when Mr. Roach brought him to the plan committee, we all looked at him where there was a need for that kind of treatment,” said Bill Spalding, a member of the Board of Commissioners and Planning Committee. “I know a lot of these treats are backed by orders. So this will help mitigate a lot of that buildup and provide the meat they need in the freezers to feed their families.”

Spalding estimates that the regulation does not give farmland owners permission to begin processing animals whenever they want, and that the zoning appeals board must consider every request.

“I think being able to stay focused on what’s happening there makes that even more valuable for BZA and us in the local government,” he said.

Jessup agreed.

“Being a farming community with a lot of residential and commercial areas, it makes sense to have an extra step in the process to make sure it’s not far from its perimeter,” he said.

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