Poultry Zoning Discussed by Wicomico Council - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Poultry Zoning Discussed by Wicomico Council

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County Council Workshop held Monday in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC) County Council Workshop held Monday in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - A special workshop was held Monday morning by the Wicomico County Council with poultry houses and possible new zoning regulations dominating the discussion.

Tuesday night, over 500 people packed into the Civic Center to hear officials from the state of Maryland address concerns over new proposed large chicken houses in Wicomico County.  After the meeting, county leaders said the county council still had plenty to discuss regarding the poultry industry, including the possibility of new zoning regulations.

Monday in front of over two dozen spectators, the county council listened to a zoning regulation draft from leaders in the planning and zoning department.

"What we're trying to do is make sure we can establish the proper zoning regulations so that the poultry industry itself, and the houses in particular, are compatible with the surrounding communities," said Wicomico County Council President, John Cannon.

Cannon said currently in Wicomico County, poultry houses are required to be setback 100 feet from a property line.  The zoning regulations draft heard Monday by the council included more restrictions including requiring poultry houses to be 200 feet from property lines.  Also, the proposed changes include having poultry houses setback 400 feet from existing structures like churches, businesses, homes or subdivisions.  There was also a call for vegetative buffers around new poultry houses and a rule that would require any exhaust fans pointed in the direction of an existing structure be at least 600 feet away.

However, not everyone in attendance of Monday's workshop believes the proposed changes are enough.  Including Gabby Cammaratta of the local group Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs

"200 feet. 400 feet. That just covers the visual aspect of the industrial scale CAFO projects. What's enough is to put in an environmental impact statement on each property and figure out what types of things will effect the people living around it, the environment, water quality," Cammaratta told WBOC on Monday.

Cannon added during the workshop there will not be a moratorium on new chicken houses while the county council debates the proposed changes.

The council president also talked about the health and environmental concerns that many opponents of the poultry projects have repeatedly brought up and urged the county council to address.  Cannon said the industry is regulated by the state of Maryland which means Wicomico County does not have the authority to implement more rules and regulations governing the health and environmental aspects of poultry.

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