The proposed Creation Museum in the Cincinnati metropolitan area jumped to a new level recently with the purchase of about $5 million worth of exhibits and equipment… for only $19,000! The 30,000-square-foot museum-to be built by the “apologetics” ministry of Answers in Genesis-would defend the Bible from the very first verse.
Last month, AIG staff traveled to Maryland for a “going out of business” auction at the Columbus Center on Baltimore Harbor. Included in AiG’s purchases was a walk-through fish (54-ft. long) that cost $340,000 to design and build. This enormous sea bass measures 18-ft. high at the fin; the Baltimore Sun reported that AiG had purchased one of the museum’s “most visible icons.”
AIG was also the top bidder on a walk-through living cell (14’ x 26’) that was constructed for $580,000 - but purchased by AIG for only $2,200. Because there was very little evolutionary content in these and the other impressive exhibits, AIG ended up purchasing more than half of the center’s “Hall of Exploration” exhibits.
Also brought back from Baltimore on six tractor-trailers were dozens of touch-screen computers and laser disc players, an exceptional exhibit on DNA and chromosomes, another on advances in genetic research, a 500-gallon marine aquarium, and a large fabricated “rock wall” with a 600-gallon active waterfall.
With AiG’s 45 large and exquisitely sculpted dinosaur models, and combined with a huge collection of fossils and minerals, Ken Ham, President of AIG, noted that “the addition of the Baltimore exhibits makes AiG’s Creation Museum ready to rival most of the natural history and science museums in America. With our Creation Museum, however, visitors will be presented with a Biblical view of history, not an evolutionary one.”
These exhibits are waiting to be placed in a state-of-the-art museum on 25 acres of natural beauty facing I-275 in Northern Kentucky (near the Cincinnati airport). Boone County’s Fiscal Court, however, denied AiG’s rezoning application in November. The decision by county commissioners, when examined in the light of the county’s own Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations, was arbitrary and capricious, and therefore AIG has appealed.
On December 30, AIG filed a motion for a “summary judgment” (partial) with the Circuit Court of Boone County. It was submitted in order to get a quick judgment on its appeal. AIG is going this route because it is confident that Judge Douglas Stephens-specially appointed from nearby Kenton County to hear the case -will readily see that Boone County went against its own zoning regulations in denying AiG’s application and that he could make a decision (a “summary judgment") without having to preside at a trial.
In its request for a motion of summary judgment, AIG submitted the following arguments:
- “Denying the zone change requested by Answers in Genesis is arbitrary and capricious because it fails to follow the Comprehensive Plan” (p. 21). The motion argues that the county’s “Comprehensive Plan unambiguously establishes that the property at issue is to be zoned industrial” (p. 30). The professional planning staff had already classified AiG’s intended use of the property as “Industrial-1.”
- AiG’s motion is also requesting that the court scrutinize “the Fiscal Court resolution [against AIG] due to the infringement of the free exercise of religion rights of Answers in Genesis” (p. 31). AIG noted that many opponents to the museum disagreed with AiG’s message, and that the “courts must closely protect the applicant’s ‘free exercise’ rights” (p. 36) and that “one cannot help but suspect part of the true basis for the Commission’s denial of AiG’s proposed land use is indeed religious bias” (p. 37).
- The county commissioners ruled in November that the “necessary infrastructure” was not available at the property. Through the reports of experts, AIG proved how “adequate” infrastructure could be installed, that AIG “proposes to use an on-site sanitary disposal system … in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan” (p. 11). The Plan only states that “Development in this area should not be accompanied by major sanitary sewer facilities that could commit the Idlewild area to develop” (emphasis ours). Further, “AIG proposes to use on-site water supply, not extension of water mains into the area” (p. 11).
Also,AIG has discovered that some public schools and other facilities in the county have provided their own infrastructure. But the county is saying that AIG can’t rezone the property because it doesn’t have “necessary” infrastructure in place. Ham noted that this is a type of “Catch-22, and shows the clearly arbitrary nature of the county’s decision.”
- The county accepted a “minority report” which was not approved by the Zone Change Committee, “yet it was adopted by the Planning Commission to support its denial of the zone change” (p. 10). This unusual minority report, for example, wrongly stated that Industrial-1 zoning “does not include office land uses.” The county’s own zoning laws clearly state that offices are principally permitted uses on Industrial-1 property.
Ham declared that “Answers in Genesis remains committed to this site. We are confident that our attorneys will argue a convincing case for the motion [possibly on January 26] and that the Circuit Court will overturn this unfair decision and require the county to follow its own Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations.”