(Florence, Kentucky)—On November 20, Answers in Genesis filed an appeal with the Boone County Circuit Court to challenge a denial of its zone-change application to build a Creation Museum and offices on 25 acres off I-275 in Northern Kentucky.
Answers in Genesis, which is committed to defending the accuracy and the authority of the Bible from the very first verse, was founded by Ken Ham, who observed: ‘The county’s Comprehensive Plan clearly provides that our tract of land should be zoned for “industrial” use, which is how our intended use is classified.
The Fiscal Court’s decision, when examined in light of its own Comprehensive Plan, is arbitrary and clearly violates our constitutional rights. We are therefore appealing.’
The Fiscal Court on November 10 approved the Planning Commission’s findings of September 16, which were clearly arbitrary and capricious:
The Commission, which voted 9-5 against the rezoning proposal in September after two earlier questionable votes, argued that the interchange near AIG’s proposed property “may support some commercial highway service establishment, especially if casino gambling occurs in [nearby] Lawrenceburg.” Ham responded: “the Commission wants to stop our ministry from building there, but would have welcomed gambling-related businesses. This is blatant viewpoint discrimination.”
This and other actions have demonstrated that the Commission and Fiscal Court “violated the First Amendment rights of AIG” (appeal point #63) and attempted “to suppress, hinder, or interfere with the free expression” of AiG’s message (point #62).
The Commission and Fiscal Court accepted a “minority report” submitted by one of the Commission members, which was “never adopted by any committee of the Planning Commission” (point #46). This minority report “is violative of the Comprehensive Plan and the Boone County Zoning Regulations, and is the result of unconstitutional and unlawful proceedings” of the Commission (point #47).
For example, this illegal minority report ruled that Industrial-1 zoning “does not include office land uses” and therefore AIG’s zoning application must be denied. Ham observed: “This is absolutely wrong and not a matter of interpretation. The county’s own zoning laws clearly state that offices are principal uses on Industrial-1 property” [section 11.7].
- The Commission also stated that the “necessary” infrastructure was not available at the property (e.g., improvement needed on an access road; building a waste-water treatment system). Ham responded that “the county had told us weeks ago that we would have to provide that infrastructure. We proved how it could be done through the reports of experts, and now the county says we can’t rezone the property because it doesn’t have ‘necessary’ infrastructure in place. This is a type of Catch-22, and shows the clearly arbitrary nature of their decision.”
- The Commission placed several conditions on the use of the remaining 22 acres not being rezoned by AIG. AIG’s appeal declares that “certain of these conditions are excessive, unfair, arbitrary, and capricious, and constitute an unconstitutional taking without just compensation” (point #31).
- The Fiscal Court “failed or refused to conduct its own independent public hearing to do fact finding on the issue” (point #34) and both they and the Planning Commission members “received inappropriate and ex parte information outside the public hearing process” (point #33).
Ham concluded: “Answers in Genesis remains committed to relocate its facilities to this site. We are confident that our legal counsel can argue a convincing case before the Circuit Court, and that the Court will overturn this decision and require the county to follow its own Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations.”