Signs op­pos­ing pro­posed chicken farm stolen from yards

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— Mary­land State Po­lice of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the theft of as many as 50 signs — all op­pos­ing a pro­posed chicken farm on Eng­land Cream­ery Road — from pri­vate yards over the week­end.

Trooper Koontz, of the North East bar­rack, said the vic­tims had erected as many as 95 signs on pri­vate prop­erty all around the farm.

“Forty to 50 of the signs placed were stolen,” Koontz said Tues­day.

ZION

A week ear­lier more than a dozen signs were stolen, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers.

One of the vic­tims, Jim Jones, has a home sur­veil­lance cam­era in his yard that cap­tured black-and­white video footage of the al­leged thieves Sun­day night. The video shows a driver in a sil­ver late model pickup truck — pos­si­bly a Chevro­let — and two run­ners. In the video, the truck is seen mov­ing slowly along Old Elm Road around 10:30 on Sun­day night as two fig­ures get out of the truck and dart onto yards, pulling signs from the ground.

“It looks like they can’t be over 21,” Koontz said of the sus­pects.

Most of the signs were con­structed of cor­ru­gated plas­tic and bear the black sil­hou­ette of a chicken be­hind a red cir­cle with a slash and the words “Stop Per­due Fac­to­ries in Ce­cil County.”

The signs were dis­trib­uted at a July 28 meet­ing held at Ris­ing Sun Amer­i­can Le­gion to or­ga­nize op­po­si­tion against Galen and Crys­tal Horst’s plan to con­vert 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.

But op­po­nents of the plan fear en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, lost prop­erty val­ues and a loss of en­joy­ment of their prop­erty. Though the plan is still in the per­mit­ting process, Brian Frymi­are, who has been lead­ing the oppo- sition, filed a tort claim in Ce­cil County District Court last week seek­ing $30,000 in dam­ages from the Horsts.

Only one of the stolen signs has been found, and it was a much larger sign that Jones erected in his front yard. A for­mer white board, Jones said he fig­ures the thieves could not get the sign into their truck quickly.

“I found it in the ditch in front of a neigh­bor’s yard,” Jones said.

In broad day­light a day later, Jones’ sur­veil­lance cam­eras picked up what ap­pears to be the same pickup ac­com­pa­nied by two others driv­ing slowly along Old Elm Road.

“It pretty much matched the de­scrip­tion of the one the night be­fore,” Koontz said.

While he has no leads, Koontz said he has sug­gested that those who wish to place more signs put them closer to their homes and not along the edge of the road.

“If they put more signs out, they’ll prob­a­bly keep do­ing it,” Koontz said.

He also told the vic­tims it would be help­ful to get the tag of the sus­pected truck.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion on the thefts can con­tact Koontz at the North East bar­rack by call­ing 410-9967800.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

State po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the theft of signs op­pos­ing a pro­posed chicken farm, such as this sign seen in front of a house on Old Elm Road two weeks ago, from pri­vate yards over the week­end.

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