Neigh­bors ready to step up op­po­si­tion to pro­posed chicken farm

Man files tort claim seek­ing $30K

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— Af­ter hear­ing from elected of­fi­cials and a non-profit group tar­get­ing fac­tory farms, op­po­nents of a pro­posed chicken farm on Eng­land Cream­ery Road are gear­ing up for a fight.

Peo­ple packed into the ban­quet hall at the Ris­ing Sun Amer­i­can Le­gion on Thurs­day night to

RIS­ING SUN

hear from Maria Payan, a con­sul­tant with So­cially Re­spon­si­ble Agri­cul­tural Project. Cecil County Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger and Del. An­drew Cas­silly (R-35B-Har­ford/ Cecil) were also in at­ten­dance and en­cour­aged the group to get in­volved in the per­mit­ting process.

This is the group’s sec­ond meet­ing in its fight to pre­vent Galen and Crys­tal Horst from con­vert­ing their ex­ist­ing 220-acre dairy farm into an or­ganic poul­try farm that would raise chick­ens for Per­due. Each of the four 63-by-600- foot build­ings would house 220,000 chick­ens for seven weeks. From there, the birds would be trans­ported to Mil­ford, Del., for pro­cess­ing.

The Horsts have al­ready scaled back their cat­tle pro­duc­tion and only grow cus­tom heifers for other farm­ers. The two have said that if there was any dan­ger to the plan, they would never con­sider putting them and their five chil­dren at risk.

But op­po­nents of the plan fear en­vi­ron­men­tal

dam­age, lost prop­erty val­ues and a loss of en­joy­ment of their prop­erty. Brian Frymi­are, who has lives near Eng­land Cream­ery Road and has been or­ga­niz­ing the com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion, re­cently filed a tort claim in Cecil County Dis­trict Court seek­ing $30,000 in dam­ages from the Horsts.

Frymi­are said the $30,000 is the max­i­mum amount he can seek, since it rep­re­sents 10 per­cent of the value of his house. And even though the Horst farm is still in the per­mit­ting phase, Frymi­are said the ef­fects of their plan have al­ready been felt since, if he wanted to sell his Steeple Chase Lane home, he’d have to dis­close the Horsts’s plans to any po­ten­tial buy­ers.

“Be­cause of what he is plan­ning to do I took a hit,” he said. “It’s not some­thing I took lightly.”

Payan, of So­cially Re­spon­si­ble Agri­cul­ture Project, also urged the crowd not to take the chicken farm pro­posal lightly. She told the au­di­ence about her former Delta, Pa. neigh­bor­hood where her small busi­ness was forced to close af­ter a poul­try farm moved nearby. Ac­cord­ing to Payan, the dust and odors per­me­ated the ori­en­tal rugs in her in­ven­tory. Since then she has been work­ing with other com­mu­ni­ties against what she con­sid­ers fac­tory farms.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that farm­ers are “the most un­der ap­pre­ci­ated peo­ple with hard­est job in the world,” Payan main­tained that the pro­posed chicken farm is an in­dus­trial op­er­a­tion that’s about to move into a res­i­den­tial area.

“A farmer is in­de­pen­dent and has rights to make de­ci­sions about how they feed the farm an­i­mals and that in­de­pen­dence is now be­ing taken away by the con­tract,” Payan said. “Th­ese are in­dus­trial.”

But Charles Hayes, dis­trict man­ager of the Cecil Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict, said last week that what the Horsts’s have pro­posed is not a fac­tory farm.

“Th­ese are grow­ing houses,” Hayes said. “It’s very ap­par­ent this is a fam­ily farm.”

Payan fur­ther warned the crowd that th­ese poul­try grow­ers go into enor­mous debt to build the houses, but have no guar­an­tee they will get birds.

“A lot of the con­tracts are signed flock to flock,” she said, adding that of­ten there is a com­pe­ti­tion among poul­try farm­ers to win the con­tract based on prior pro­duc­tion suc­cess.

Payan also doubts that the reg­u­la­tions chicken farm­ers have to abide by of­fer any pro­tec­tion. Dur­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion she showed pho­to­graphs of a one-year-old poul­try farm that had yet to con­struct the re­quired com­post­ing fa­cil­ity for ma­nure or a pro­cess­ing site for dead birds. She also ques­tioned why there is no re­quire­ment for a dis­charge per­mit from the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment.

There were also con­cerns stated about the amount of wa­ter the farm would draw, claim­ing 750,000 gal­lons of wa­ter would be needed over the grow­ing cy­cle.

Payan also de­tailed the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts from am­mo­nia and hy­dro­gen sul­fide, which she said would em­anate from the ma­nure. Both are heavy, which means they would stay close to the ground where chil­dren would be most at risk.

“We’re talk­ing qual­ity of life, odors, flies, truck traf­fic, dust. You can’t open your win­dows and you can’t en­joy out­door ac­tiv­i­ties,” she said.

But a re­port from the Cecil County Health Depart­ment praised the Horst’s plans for pro­vid­ing more set­back than re­quired and add that reg­u­la­tions should as­suage any health or en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

“In sum­mary, the Horst chicken house pro­posal ex­ceeds reg­u­la­tory and rec­om­mended stan­dards for place­ment of the chicken houses and will have a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of its han­dling of ma­nure and live­stock be­fore place­ment of birds can oc­cur,” the re­port reads. “It has been de­signed to min­i­mize health and aes­thetic im­pacts on neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

Payan said she would like to of­fer the Horsts a way to raise chick­ens out­side cor­po­rate in­flu­ence. An­other per­son in the au­di­ence sug­gested that ev­ery­one in the room pool their funds and of­fer to buy the Horst farm.

Sch­neck­en­burger and Cas­silly, mean­while, tried to con­vince the group to get in­volved in the process.

“The (per­mit­ting) process will take at least 90 days and there will also be pub­lic hearings,” Sch­neck­en­burger said. “There’s many, many hoops this fam­ily has to jump through.”

Not­ing that he grew up on a dairy cat­tle farm, Cas­silly said he un­der­stood the odor con­cerns but added that cat­tle car­ries a worse odor than would an or­ganic poul­try farm.

“You give them lots of sun­light and clean wa­ter and they grow bet­ter,” Cas­silly said.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Neigh­bors of a pro­posed chicken farm on Eng­land Cream­ery Road in Zion take a sign to post in their yard to show their op­po­si­tion.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Maria Payan, a con­sul­tant with So­cially Re­spon­si­ble Agri­cul­tural Project, speaks with a com­mu­nity mem­ber who is con­cerned about a pro­posed chicken farm in Zion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.