A battle over the impact of a big hog farm on rural home values in Bartholomew County will go before the Indiana Board of Tax Review – but it will not lead to the broader regulatory changes some residents had hoped for.
On Tuesday, county officials denied individual property tax appeals from a group of neighbors who live near a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in the town of Hope.
The county had also hoped to come up with a standard tax deduction for similar homeowners in the future, involving factors like distance and topography. But county assessor Lew Wilson says those became too complex to use in policy.
“There’s so many subjective things, and whenever you get into subjective items it becomes more difficult,” he says. “And then, when you have several subjective items, it becomes even more difficult after that.”
County officials did not offer a permanent solution. But the neighbors can still appeal their individual cases to the state. Hope resident Nancy Banta says they will.
“I think we’re probably just going to have to keep going like we have been going, and try to keep it in the public eye … until people start listening enough and realizing what this is going to do to their community, and the potential for harm,” Banta says.
She says the smell of the CAFO near her house keeps her inside for much of the year. Banta wants her property value – and taxes – reduced by about a quarter.