Mallard Lake property set for auction after decades of legal fights

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Since 1978, the 254 acres that comprise the Mallard Lake farm in Richland Township have become a well-known battleground in Madison County with the owner waging a long legal fight to turn the property into a landfill.

Now, with an auction sale of the site looming, any lingering chance of a landfill development has come to an end.

Current owner Bex Farms plans to sell the property at auction on April 14. Halderman Real Estate Services of Wabash will conduct the sale at 6:30 p.m. at the Alexandria Community Center.

Bex Farms acquired the property for $1.1 million in 2013 after longtime owner Ralph Reed died in 2012. Reed fought legal battles with neighborhood groups over the property for more than three decades before his death.

Activists fighting the proposed landfill claimed the project would hurt the region's economy and environment. The Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association battled the project in administrative, trial and appeals courts, zoning hearings, the Legislature and other venues. The city of Anderson also opposed the landfill.

Bex withdrew an application to renew the landfill permit at the site last year before deciding to sell the property.

An open house is scheduled for March 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the farm site in the 2400 block of East 300 North.

Brad Newman, Madison County planning director, said the property is zoned conservation/residential. He said the zoning provides for a buffer zone between agricultural and residential properties.

Newman said the auction company plans to divide the property into six parcels prior to the sale, and it could be divided into as many as eight parcels.

Newman said if a residential subdivision would be planned for the site, the developer would have to extend water and sewer lines or request a waiver from the requirement.

Mark Stewart of Best Way Disposal, a subsidiary of Bex Farms, said the company has no use for the property.

"It's mostly farm ground," he said. "It had been leased to a local farmer."

Helen Wean, a member of the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association, which fought the landfill proposal for more than 30 years, said she didn't know what plans Bex Farms had for the property after the landfill permit expired.

"It won't be a landfill," she said. "They're limited on what could be developed on the property."

Wean, a local real estate agent, said the Mallard Lake property would be ideal for a residential subdivision. She said there is a renewed interest in residential development in the area north of Anderson.

"I'm not surprised," Wean said of the sale. "This is better for everyone."

Dan Spall, whose property is located directly north of the landfill site, said any development is better than a landfill.

"I want all this to go away," he said. "So many people put up the good fight."

Spall has lived on his property for 35 years and didn't believe it when Bex Farms said there was no interest in a landfill operation.

"When they removed all the trees, I thought they were grooming it for a landfill," he said. "I hoped it would be over after the landfill permit expired."

Spall said he hopes the property remains as farm ground in the future.

Property taxes on the property are estimated at $9,932.

The property includes a four-bedroom house, garage and pole barn.

The auction company website shows 168 acres of tillable ground, 61 wooded acres, 16 non-tillable acres and nine acres included with the house.

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