Hope

 

Rural homeowners in Bartholomew County say a big, nearby hog farm – a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO – is hurting their property values.

The county denied their bid to lower the CAFO neighbors’ property taxes, and argued the issue is too complex to codify, while residents say officials are just worried about politics and money.

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

 

Bartholomew County may try the unusual tactic of a residential property tax deduction to ease tensions between large livestock farms and nearby residents.

 

At a property tax appeals board hearing Tuesday, county assessor Lew Wilson says not many Indiana counties have tried using the tax code to tackle the effects of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

 

"I think it’s a little bit of new territory that we’ve got to deal with," he says.

 

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana is adding more large-scale hog farms every year. They're good business for farmers, but some neighbors say they can be bad for property values.

It’s an argument people are having across the state, especially in small towns, like Hope -- population: 2,200 -- in Bartholomew County.

 

It's where Nancy Banta's family has lived for almost 200 years. She heads up the gravel driveway to her farmhouse, where rocking chairs on a white-washed wood porch look out over a cornfield, and a wind chime hangs over the creaky screen door.