Poultry House Debate Continues In Somerset County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Poultry House Debate Continues In Somerset County

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Somerset County poultry houses along Backbone Road in Princess Anne (WBOC) Somerset County poultry houses along Backbone Road in Princess Anne (WBOC)

PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- The Somerset County poultry house debate was back up for discussion Tuesday and could mean big changes for poultry growers. The Somerset County Planning Commission recommended a number of changes to its poultry house zoning regulations that could significantly impact poultry grower operations in Somerset County. 

Tuesday evening's meeting to discuss the recommended regulations was held at the Somerset County Civic Center in Princess Anne. Samuel Berley has six new poultry houses within a few hundred feet of the home he has lived in for the past 20 years. Berley said he plans to voice his concerns about health issues at the poultry meeting.

"The chicken operations back then didn't pose the dangers that modern chicken operation does, especially when it's so close to a dwelling like mine," Berley said. 

Many neighbors like Berley want to see a greater emphasis on set backs and buffers, run-off, and air quality regulations for poultry houses.

Margaret Barnes, Founder of Moms Across America Eastern Shore said, "I'm very concerned about the air quality. These new chicken houses, which are nothing like the old chicken houses emit mass quantities of ammonia; and ammonia is linked to several health risk."

The zoning changes the Somerset County Planning Commission recommend attempt to address those key concerns, such as increasing setbacks for new operations from homes from 200 feet to 400 feet, and even farther based on the size of the operation.

WBOC reached out to Bill Satterfield with Delmarva Poultry Industry, a trade group dedicated to protecting the viability of the poultry industry for a statement about the recommendations, but we were told DPI had "No comment."

Those who attended Tuesday's meeting were also afforded the opportunity to voice their opinions about the recommendations. No final decision concerning the recommendations and poultry house zoning regulations were made at the meeting. 

County officials say the earliest a decision could be made is within two weeks, but that is unlikely given the county will be reviewing written comments regarding the recommendations through June 24. The next Somerset County Commissioners meeting is scheduled for June 28. 

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