WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - A Virginia family has proposed the building of 13 chicken houses on a little more than 60 acres of land just west of the city of Salisbury. However, some environmental concerns have been raised because the land sits on top of the paleochannel that supplies Salisbury's drinking water.
The Ahmed family of northern Virginia filed a permit with the Maryland Department of the Environment for construction that would have an impact on drinking water. The land is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of North West and Naylor Mill roads in Wicomico County. The land sits on top of the paleochannel and because of that, it has some concerned, including John Groutt, a board member of the Wicomico Environmental Trust.
"Pretty much what's on the surface is going to go directly into the aquifer. So that does give us some concern whether it's septic tanks or poultry houses," Groutt said.
Groutt said it is important for Wicomico County to review its zoning ordinances because of situations like this one. Big projects that Groutt believes the zoning regulations are too outdated to properly regulate and control. Groutt also added the last thing anyone wants is a dispute between environmentalists and those in the agricultural industry, but he said there is a real need to ensure the steps and zoning regulations in place are something both sides can live with in Wicomico County.
The location on North West Road is currently zoned for agricultural use in Wicomico County which means these chicken houses would be allowed to operate in that location. There are still plenty of steps for the future poultry farmers to take before the operation is up and running but its an operation that is a real possibility.
WBOC reached out to the Ahmed family in Virginia but has yet to hear back. According to the MDE permit, the 13 poultry houses will come with the appurtenances associated with the poultry and houses and stormwater management facilities. Those facilities include 10 open channel systems to take care of over 23 acres of drainage and two stormwater ponds to handle the roughly 40 other acres on the site.