GREENSBURG — The Decatur County Area Plan Commission has approved BEX Farms (also known as Decatur Hills Landfill or Best Way) petition to rezone 150 acres of land from an A-1 zoning classification to an I-2 zoning classification for future operational needs.
The petition has drawn criticism from some Decatur County residents. Those at this week’s APC meeting expressed concern that the approval is a step closer to an expansion of the landfill.
“There is no landfill being approved tonight, does everyone understand that? This is for a rezoning of property,” Decatur County APC President Paul Stone said before the meeting was opened to public comment. “Should this pass, we will have a discussion about a landfill, but that is if and when, not tonight.”
The APC voted 5-1 to pass the petition at a public meeting Wednesday evening. Mark Fixmer, owner of BEX Farms, presented the petition to the panel.
Residents expressed concern about odor, safety, the potential of pollution and chemicals from the landfill causing cancer and protecting future generations. Others were concerned of an aquifer underneath the land near the landfill and the need to preserve it.
The following members of the APC board voted yes on the petition: Stone, Tom Cherry, Todd Mauer, Eric Whitaker, Brad Schutte and Jay Schoettmer.
APC board member Sheila Kirchhoff voted against the petition.
Stone said the APC ‘s duty is to vote on rezoning matters and not those concerned with land use.
Fixmer’s request falls under Decatur County Ordinance Section #1216-1228.
Fixmer owns the property which is located on S. CR 280 E. and U.S. Hwy. 421. It is composed of seven parcels in Washington Township.
When the APC last heard Fixmer’s petition, the board asked him to answer three questions prior to returning before them.
One question was related to odor complaints. Fixmer said his business has made operational changes, including increasing the quantity of daily cover to improve the smell.
The second question had to deal with lifespan. The existing landfill has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years and the proposed rezone would bring the total lifespan up to 25 to 30 years.
The third question was related to the size of the landfill and if the business could do with less.
Fixmer presented a new overall request which has taken the western most parcels off the petition. The new overall request is 94 acres rather than 157 acres.
As reported previously by the Daily News, the current landfill sits on 138 acres.
Next, the Decatur County Commissioners will either approve or deny Fixmer’s petition. If the commissioners approve the petition, Fixmer would then have to go before the Zoning Appeals Board and ask expand the landfill.