- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—BROOKVILLE — A game bird hunting preserve in the far northwest corner of Franklin County was approved by the county’s Area Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals July 8.

But the father and son who requested the conditional use of 100 acres in Laurel had to be patient and wait almost three hours for both panels to make their decisions.

Owner Mark Fields, in partnership with sons Jason and Ryan, requested that the outdoor commercial enterprise be allowed at 27061 U.S. 52 in Sections 10-11 of Posey Township and gave a development plan to members. Mark and Ryan have adjacent homes there about 150 yards apart.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources requires 100 acres for a shooting preserve. The Fieldses own 82.25 acres, so they will secure a lease of 17.75 acres from next door neighbor Dale Beck.

Mark Fields noted, “The actual hunting ground is about 30 acres” on their land’s west and north sides. The fenced pasture is bordered with trees. The closest house is 683 feet away on Riebolt Road.

In addition to the hunting area, the operation would include an office and portable toilet in a pole barn and six to eight parking spaces. Forty signs every 500 feet saying Licensed Shooting Preserve are required around the perimeter.

The hunting area would contain close to 250 pheasants, 500-600 quails and 300 chuckars. Every bird would be individually sold.

Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday by appointment only. “There could be as many as two groups a day,” perhaps from 8 a.m.-noon, then another from 1-5 p.m. There would be no hunting on Sundays due to church and business obligations.

A representative would actually go out with each group of at most four hunters to insure safety rules are followed and they stay within the property. There are four hunting areas with paths through areas with trees.

His father talked to 17 surrounding property owners about the business, showing them maps and discussing hours and details. “We wanted them to be as knowledgeable as we were … Everybody was in support of what we were doing.” He pointed out, “Whatever goes off our property is free game for everybody else.”

No citizens spoke about the proposal at the meeting.

FCAPC member and extension educator Anna Morrow asked if IDNR is the regulating authority. Mark Fields confirmed, “IDNR has to issue us a license. We have to meet all of the requirements.”

Vice President Ed Derickson, Blooming Grove Township, asked if dogs would be allowed. Yes was the answer.

Member Dennis Brown, Cedar Grove, questioned, “What happens down the road if your neighbor decides” not to lease the section? According to Mark Fields, “IDNR requires a five-year lease,” but he wants Beck to sign a 10-year contract. “We’ve got a great relationship” as Beck farms part of the family’s land. If he withdraws his property in the future, Ryan Fields has another adjacent property that could be used to fulfill the acreage mandate.

Derickson said he admired the preparation the men had made.

FCAPC President Rick McMillin, Whitewater Township, said, “Our duty will be to forward this to the BZA” with a recommendation. “It is a conditional use,” which is permitted in an Agriculture-1 zone. He asked if board members wanted to add conditions to the recommendation.

McMillin suggested a condition to comply with all IDNR requirements. Other stipulations that members added were the preserve would be limited to the three specified birds and there would be no Sunday hunting.

The request received a 6-0 favorable recommendation.

Then the Fieldses waited while FCAPC debated whether a cell tower should be allowed in rural Batesville. The decision was continued until Aug. 12.

When the Franklin County Board of Zoning Appeals convened, Mark Fields described the “very good habitat for the birds.” Twelve years ago the family planted 600 walnut and 300 red oak trees. More recently, millet, sorghum, corn and summer grasses have been sowed. The birds are kept in pens.

He reported shotguns would be allowed, but not rifles. “We want to make sure our rules and regulations are abided by. Safety is very important to us.”

The panel swiftly voted to allow the conditional use with three conditions advised by FCAPC.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at [email protected] or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.


(c)2015 The Herald-Tribune (Batesville, Ind.)

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