TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Vigo County Commissioners voted to approve a controversial rezoning ordinance on Tuesday after discussion that spanned meetings over the course of two months.
LFM Quality Laboratories was seeking to rezone 40 acres of land off of US-41 near Pimento to allow for an expansion of their business which involves testing on animals. The vote had been tabled at meetings in October and November.
Residents had raised numerous concerns at previous meetings. Some were concerned on how the rezoning could affect adjacent properties, but a majority of complaints centered on worries about the morality of animal testing.
President of the commissioners Chris Switzer said he appreciated the public input, but what the business does was not a part of their decision-making process.
“I don’t believe it’s a commissioner’s duty or job to tell people how to run their business, although I understand the moralities of the situation,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, any person wanting to grow their business and get bigger, they have the opportunity to do so within our community.”
Switzer said he believed the industrial park could’ve been a more convenient location, but he’s happy the process played out the right way.
I think there was ample opportunity in the industrial park and I kind of wish he would’ve went there because we wouldn’t have had to go through this property,” he said. “But I don’t discredit anybody for wanting to move somewhere in our community and having the opportunity to grow their business.”
“At least this route, people had the opportunity [to voice concerns,] we heard that, plenty of that over three meetings we had and I think it’s great. At the end of the day, it’s just business like I said, and we approved it.”
He said he understood the questions on the business, but there were a number of agencies that have oversight on how it’s run, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Drug Administration.
Switzer said he didn’t believe it was a commissioner’s job to judge what a business does.
“If people are truly upset about this being in the walls of our community, they need to talk to our legislators, state legislators. If they don’t like it, they need to say, ‘We don’t like this in Vigo County, we don’t like this in Indiana, do something about it,’” he said. “But for a commissioner to be in the middle of something like this and stop this based on moralities, I don’t think it’s a good precedent to set.”