(Florence, KY)—After 2 years of attempting to get approval from Boone County (Northern Kentucky) to rezone property for a 95,000-square-foot museum and headquarters, the Bible-defending ministry of Answers in Genesis saw the county’s Fiscal Court last night overturn a controversial vote by its planning commission. The court voted 3-1 in favor of AiG’s application on 47 acres west of the large Cincinnati airport; while a zoning committee had voted 3-2 in favor earlier this year, the planning commission voted in March to deny.
“We are extremely happy to finally have this long saga behind us,” declared Ken Ham, president of the apologetics ministry. “I commend the Fiscal Court for its bold and well-reasoned decision to overturn the unfair denial by the commission. Now we can at last get on with building a Bible-honoring museum and new headquarters.”
In 1996, AiG was denied rezoning on a different piece of property by the previous Fiscal Court. The county’s professional planning staff then encouraged AiG to find a less rural site. AiG eventually found 47 acres facing busy I-275 and abutting commercially zoned property, an interchange set aside by the county on its future land-use map for development.
What should have been a straightforward process of rezoning, however, turned into a time of controversy. False rumors first circulated by secular humanists in 1996 and recently resurrected by a few residents that AiG was a cult and a “big business” (one opponent last night called AiG “the world’s largest publisher of religious material”) helped lead to front-page headlines in the Cincinnati metropolitan area (and even some major secular newspapers in England and Australia).
Commissioner Robert Hay of the Fiscal Court, who has publicly and unashamedly proclaimed his Christian faith, noted that his decision to vote in favor of AiG was based solely on land-use issues, not because he happened to share AiG’s Biblical views. He noted that the previous “split vote” (i.e., a recommendation by the zoning committee but a denial later by the commission) prompted Hay and his colleagues to review the commission’s vote to deny.
Judge-Executive Gary Moore, the county’s top official and a Fiscal Court member, joined Mr. Hay in voting for AiG, declaring that “it was the right thing to do.”
Commissioner Hay noted that he had been lobbied heavily by both sides, but that his vote in favor of AiG’s rezoning was based on the county’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations. Even so, Ken Ham expressed his gratitude to the 2,700 citizens in the region for signing AiG petitions, to the 600 people for writing letters of support (when last checked, only a handful of letters were written against AiG), and to AiG’s future neighbors who have been speaking publicly for the museum.
When opened, the Creation Museum will demonstrate that the Scriptural accounts of the Creation, Noah’s Flood, and other major events of Biblical history can be trusted. AiG has already collected dozens of first-class exhibits, including huge, well-crafted dinosaur models, fossils, minerals, and numerous exhibits purchased at a Baltimore museum auction in December (estimated in the millions of dollars).