(Florence, Kentucky)-With highly publicized zoning decisions, it is often the residents who influence a planning commission’s deliberations. That theory fell apart last night as the Planning Commission of Boone County voted 8-6 to deny a rezoning request by Answers in Genesis for 47 acres of land west of the Cincinnati airport for a Creation Museum and headquarters.
The denial came despite a recommendation by its zoning committee on March 11 to approve the museum’s rezoning. The decision also flew in the face of widespread support in the area for the museum:
- 2,660 signatures were collected from people in the region who are in support of the project.
- 560 letters of support (many even from outside the area) came pouring into the county offices, and only a handful were against.
- At a public hearing in front of the same commission earlier this month, 29 people expressed their support for the project (including 5 future neighbors of the proposed site) and only 9 families against.
Ken Ham, President of the Bible-defending ministry of Answers in Genesis, declared that the AIG plan is still an excellent fit with the county’s future land-use map as well as the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
“I am perplexed as to why the commission would vote this way,” said Ham. “I am hopeful, however, that the county’s Fiscal Court will overturn this unfair and arbitrary decision.” AIG was turned down last year on the same property; after AIG filed an appeal and lawsuit, the newly elected Fiscal Court suggested that AIG resubmit its rezoning proposal with some modifications. The lawsuit has been stayed during the process.
The planning commission’s denial will be reviewed in April by the Fiscal Court, which has the final say on zoning matters. AIG will encourage the Fiscal Court to examine the commission’s highly unusual procedure of accepting an unapproved “minority” report composed by only two members of the five-member zone-change committee that urged a denial of the rezoning (this report was never voted on by the zone-change committee itself).
Some of the commission members had expressed concern that the necessary infrastructure was not already there at the property. AIG, however, clearly showed how water could be provided through four different means.
One commissioner, who voted for AIG, said: “I can’t understand why” his colleagues voted against it. Another commissioner who voted for the AIG proposal in committee flip-flopped at the commission hearing.
AiG’s proposed museum already has a number of exhibits collected that would make it one of the finest science museums in the Midwest, including: over 45 large dinosaur models; major exhibits costing millions of dollars to design and build that were purchased recently from a Baltimore museum for a tiny fraction of their cost; fossils; minerals, etc. The museum would present history from a Biblical point of view, not an evolutionary one. These impressive exhibits would be housed in a 30,000-sq.-ft. building, with adjoining workshop rooms, a distribution center, and offices.