Neigh­bors hold protest against pro­posed chicken farm

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— Op­po­nents of a pro­posed or­ganic poul­try op­er­a­tion staged a protest on Satur­day morn­ing to voice their con­cerns about the project.

Hold­ing signs and wav­ing to pass­ing ve­hi­cles, the pro­test­ers, led by Brian Frymi­are, stood along Route 272 at Eng­land Creamery Road in an ef­fort to pro­mote their dis­like of the pro­posed chicken op­er­a­tion, which Galen and Crys­tal Horst plan to build on their nearby farm.

ZION

The Horsts are in the process of get­ting per­mits to build four large build­ings where they would raise some 200,000 chick­ens at a time for Per­due Farms. A sim­i­lar — al­beit smaller — op­er­a­tion is al­ready in place along Route 213 in Ear­leville. The Meck farm has two poul­try houses.

Protest signs held Satur­day in­cluded a sil­hou­ette of a chicken in a red cir­cle with a slash as well as oth­ers that read “Ground Zero: Stop Per­due Farms” and “Keep Chicken Pol­lu­tion Out of Ce­cil County.”

Frymi­are said Fri­day that most of the 14 yard signs erected around the area had dis­ap­peared. He planned to file a po­lice re­port.

Many of the pro­test­ers were among those who had gath­ered at the Amer­i­can Le­gion in Ris­ing Sun ear­lier this month to dis­cuss their con­cerns about the project. Many were up­set that they’d re­ceived very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about a project tak­ing place so close to their prop­er­ties. Along with lower prop­erty

val­ues, the group has also ex­pressed con­cerns about health and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, as well as harm to the wa­ter sup­ply if the project gets ap­proved.

But a few hours later at the Ce­cil County Fair, the pres­i­dent of the Ce­cil County Farm Bureau says he wishes peo­ple would get all the in­for­ma­tion be­fore form­ing an opin­ion on the plan. Jonathan Quinn was aghast at how di­vi­sive the is­sue had be­come, which he blamed on mis­in­for­ma­tion.

“Peo­ple get on the in­ter­net and be­lieve ever ything they read with­out mak­ing a de­ci­sion to­ward the mid­dle,” he said. “Seems like peo­ple have al­ready got their minds made up.”

At the Ce­cil County Fair’s Poul­try Show, the Horsts’ pro­posal drew mixed re­ac­tions from those in at­ten­dance. Lena Tom­czak, who lives in Ear­leville, said she saw the two large build­ings at the Meck Farm but was not aware it was a chicken farm un­til told so by a re­porter.

“It looks like it’s pretty se­cluded,” she said, adding that was in the farm’s fa­vor.

Cindy Cor­drey, of Elk­ton, com­mented that the chick­ens would be a good way to di­ver­sify one’s farm.

“And there are a lot of ben­e­fits to rais­ing chick­ens as far as they take care a lot of bugs,” she said.

Cor­drey said if run prop­erly, these farms would not af­fect their neigh­bor­hoods.

“I know they have pretty re­stric­tive prac­tices they have to ad­here to,” she said. As for the use of chicken ma­nure as fer­til­izer, Cor­drey said, “Any­thing, if you ap­ply it wisely and have a good plan, it could be use­ful to the com­mu­nity.”

How­ever, Mike Logan, of North East, was against the plans, say­ing the op­er­a­tion would not be a fam­ily farm.

“There are no Per­due birds shown here,” he said, re­fer­ring to the chick­ens en­tered in the 4-H com­pe­ti­tion Satur­day af­ter­noon. “This is fam­ily farm­ing with healthy an­i­mals.”

Logan said he con­sid­ers the houses the Horsts hope to build, which have 200,000 birds grown in 7-week cy­cles, fac­tory farms.

“It’s grow them, kill them and get them out of here,” he said.

( Ear­lier this month, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Per­due said the chick­ens would be taken to Milford, Del. for pro­cess­ing.)

Like the Horsts plans for Zion, the south­ern Ce­cil County project is free range and or­ganic, but op­po­nents still fear air and wa­ter qual­ity ef­fects as well as dam­age to their prop­erty val­ues if the project is per­mit­ted.

“From what I un­der­stand they have done a pretty good job of de­stroy­ing the land in Caro­line County,” Logan said. “We have plenty of fam­ily farms here, not in­dus­trial farms.”

How­ever, Quinn, the farm bureau pres­i­dent, said the Horst poul­try farm is not a fac­tor y farm, point­ing out that the Horsts plan to con­tinue work­ing the farm with their chil­dren. As for claims of neg­a­tive ef­fects on the neigh­bor­hood, Quinn said his farm in War­wick is near an even larger poul­try op­er­a­tion, and he has suf­fered no neg­a­tive ef­fects.

“I’m like a mile from 1.5 mil­lion layer chick­ens and it doesn’t af­fect my life,” he said.

The Meck Farm has al­ready had two cy­cles of chick­ens come through its barns and Quinn noted that most peo­ple “saw noth­ing.”

“These farms are not smelly and dirty like ev­ery­body thinks they are,” he said. “Tech­nol­ogy has changed so much.”

The Horst project is cur­rently be­fore the Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment. Per­due is hop­ing to have more farms in Ce­cil County.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Op­po­nents of the pro­posed chicken farm in Zion protested Satur­day morn­ing at Route 272 and Eng­land Creamery Road.

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