AP NEWS

Pig farm fined for issue on permits

May 1, 2019

An Allen Superior Court judge has ordered an East Allen County pig farm operating without proper permits from the county’s building department to pay $256,500 in fines.

WR Farms LLC, which has a Spencerville address at 17229 Van Zile Road, had structures built illegally at a farrowing operation at 2007 N. Roussey Road, according to court documents.

Farrowing is raising young pigs from birth for sale to another agricultural entity before they are full grown.  

According to court documents, at least one outbuilding and a house did not have the required improvement location and associated permits and licenses on the part of contractors and should not have been built.

Also, a house on the property was demolished without proper permits before the replacement was built, court documents say.

In October, 2017, the county’s building department notified WR Farms and its registered agent, David Witmer Jr., of 500 a day.

By Oct. 18, 2018, the fines had grown to $207,500, with no payment or notification that WR Farms contested them, despite a letter from an attorney for the building department, according to court documents.

Last week, Judge Jennifer DeGroote ordered the default judgment plus $5,557 in attorney fees because of the continuing lack of response.

John Caywood, building department commissioner, said he believes the department will be paid the money.

“This judgment allows us to pursue a lien against the property or to foreclose on the property to get our penalty money,” he said, adding he is willing to work with the property owner.

“I would prefer compliance,” Caywood said.

The property was in use early last month, with the pigs in an outbuilding not subject to the order, Caywood said. The residence and at least one other outbuilding also have been condemned to prevent use, he said.

The operation was granted permission to operate as nonconforming use by the Board of Zoning Appeals in October of 2017. But conditions were placed upon the property, including a written commitment that was not submitted in a timely manner as required, according to records of the county’s Department of Planning Services.

The approval was removed by the county’s zoning appeals board of in August, 2018, department records say, after staff members observed violations of conditions requiring no outdoor storage or debris on the property. 

Also, a cease-and-desist order was issued by an Allen County judge in early 2017 in an attempt by officials to gain compliance with the permitting process. 

WR Farms could be reached for comment.   

rsalter@jg.net