New Poultry Zoning Regs Passed in Wicomico County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Poultry Zoning Regs Passed in Wicomico County

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Wicomico County Chicken House. (Photo: WBOC) Wicomico County Chicken House. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - After months of debate, the Wicomico County Council decided on Tuesday night to pass new zoning regulations for poultry houses.

An influx of poultry house applications to the county shed light on the nearly non-existent zoning regulations for those houses.  Prior to Tuesday night, there was one line in county's code pertaining to poultry houses.  The only rule was a required 100 foot setback.  It's now a much different story following Tuesday night's county council meeting.

County Council President John Cannon told WBOC he believes the new bill will allow the poultry industry to prosper in the county's agricultural district, while also addressing the concerns of local residents.

"We found a compromise for the homeowners in the agricultural district to feel a little more at ease with the new construction of these poultry houses in the AG. district," Cannon said.

The new regulations in the bill passed by the council include a 400 foot setback for poultry houses from any building not on the same property.  Also, a 200 foot setback from all property lines.  Also included in the new regulations is a requirement for any exhaust fan on a poultry house facing away from buildings on another property be at least 500 feet away; 600 feet if that fan is facing neighboring homes or buildings.

Council President Cannon believes the bill is a good compromise for both sides, but said not everyone is always happy with every bill.  That is no different in this case because there are those who believe more still needs to be done.  The group, Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs, believe more steps need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of neighbors around these large poultry operations.  Some measures the group has been pushing for for months.

"The idea of a health ordinance.  A health ordinance would go one step beyond basic zoning regulations.  A health ordinance would protect the citizens of Wicomico County," said Gabby Cammarata of Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs.

Also, after reviewing the new regulations, the group believes a few more items need to be considered including a limit on the density of these poultry operations.  Also, there is a desire to have public postings of Notices of Intent for each proposed project so neighbors can be informed.  The group also has concerns over people looking for loopholes in the regulations and taking advantage of them in their poultry house construction.

However, just a day after these new regulations have passed, Council President Cannon said it was too premature to say what may be revisited or when.  And Cannon stands by his belief that these new regulations are a good option for both sides.

The bill now awaits the signature of Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver.  Once signed, the new regulations take effect immediately.

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