Farmer requests building hog barns

A farmer’s desire to provide for the needs of his children, including a son who wants to follow in his footsteps, is fueling plans for two 4,000-head hog barns northwest of Brownstown.

James Lucas of 2756 N. County Road 300W, Freetown, is scheduled to discuss that

application for a confined animal feeding operation with the Jackson County Plan Commission on Tuesday night.

The request could eventually pose a conflict of interest for Lucas. He is one of five members of the county Board of Zoning Appeals, which would consider approval of the request once it passes from the plan commission.

“I would have to recuse myself at that point,” Lucas said Thursday.

Lucas, 42, said his plans to build the hog barns on a 159.37-acre site at 1502 W. County Road 300N involves his love of agriculture and the need to provide for the

future of his family.

“My son, Matthew, has been involved in farming with me,” said Lucas, who already owns a 4,000-head hog barn with his brother, Jeffrey Lucas. The brothers opened that operation, one of seven in the county affiliated with Jackson-Jennings Co-op, nearly 10 years ago.

“We moved our first baby pigs in in January of 2004,” Lucas said.

The proposed operation is located about 3½ miles northwest of Brownstown.

“I’m farming with my brother, and we share equipment and own the hog barn together, but he (his son Matthew) really can’t buy into that,” Lucas said. “He also has two younger sisters, Rebecca, 10, and Emma, 5, that we need to provide for in the future.”

Confined feeding operations with ties to Jackson-Jennings contract for the co-op to bring in the hogs and pay for the feed while the owners of the barn cover the costs of raising the hogs to maturity, Lucas said.

In 2012, two other Jackson County farmers, Grant VonDielingen of rural Brownstown and Nathan Newkirk of Hamilton Township, attempted to build similar operations in other areas of the county. They dropped those plans because of opposition from nearby property owners.

Lucas said he and his son, Matthew, 16, have been meeting with neighbors about their plans, which Matthew will discuss during Tuesday’s plan commission meeting.

“I think they’ve gone pretty well,” Lucas said of talks with neighbors.

Tuesday’s meeting is a preliminary meeting where the applicant presents his application and answers questions from plan commissioners.

After the hearing, the nine-member board can pass the application on to the county Board of Zoning Appeals with a favorable or unfavorable recommendation. It also can offer no recommendation.

The county Board of Zoning Appeals then would conduct a public hearing about the request during its Dec. 10 meeting at the courthouse annex.

Lucas said he has yet to file an application for a permit with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for the two barns because of the cost associated with that application and the potential for opposition that could kill the project.

He said a farmer can spend from $6,000 to $8,000 to complete and file the necessary paperwork for the application.

If you go

WHAT: Jackson County Plan Commission meeting

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Courthouse annex in Brownstown

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.