Puppy plan expected to draw opponents tonight

A large group of animal lovers are expected to turn out tonight to protest against a proposed puppy farm in rural Bartholomew County.

The Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals has moved its meeting to the Columbus Municipal Airport building in anticipation of the large turnout to hear a request to allow the operation on a farm property on County Road 950N and Road 500E in Flatrock Township.

According to a staff report from the city-county planning department, the  applicants would like to build a 42 foot by 80 foot kennel. The plan to breed small dogs  and will not be open to the public. The kennel will have about 80 cages, several outdoor dog runs and exercise areas.

The city county planning department is recommending that the board pass the application from Aaron and Lena Oberholtzer to allow the construction of the family-owned kennel and the use of the farm property to raise dogs.

Although the property is zoned for agricultural use, under county zoning codes a dog kennel is a conditional use which requires approval by the board of zoning appeals. Under the codes, the purpose of a Agricultural (Preferred) zoning is “To provide an area suitable for agriculture and agriculture-related uses. It is further intended to preserve agricultural operations while limiting non-agricultural development in areas with minimal and incompatible infrastructure.”

Assistant planning director Melissa Begley says Board of Zoning Appeals decisions are binding under state law and are not subject to appeal to the county commissioners. The only appeal process is through the court system.

Planning department staff says that a large number of people have been asking about the approval process for the kennel. A campaign is being organized through social media, opposing the application.

The county BZA meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the Columbus Municipal Airport lower level meeting room on Ray Boll Boulevard.

Link to download planning department report