2017-05-25 / Front Page

Planning Commission offers points to govern county’s poultry houses

The Wilkes County Planning Commission will recommend to the Board of Commissioners that five new points governing the permitting and establishment of poultry houses be added to Wilkes County’s existing Land Use Ordinance. The recommendation will be considered for possible adoption, modification, or rejection at the next regular meeting of that board, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 8.

The five points were offered to the Planning Commission members by Chairman Kyle Brown after months of research and consideration.

“I have listened to both sides of the poultry house argument and I have also read ordinances from at least six other counties within our surrounding area and I have researched as much as I could to seek out the truth about the harm of poultry houses to our health and well-being,” Brown said.

He went on to explain his findings and he specifically addressed “the Greene County Ordinance” (previously offered by a group of citizens as a possibility) and its provisions concerning such issues as setbacks, odors, comprehensive nutrient (waste) management, buffer zones, etc. He further identified another consideration.

“I see our real problem being mega farms coming into Wilkes County,” Brown said. “I see this as something we need to address way more than most of the things in the Greene County Ordinance. This was the reason for the original moratorium request that got all of this discussion started in the first place.” He went on to explain that he feels that, in regard to the poultry industry, “to have smaller farms rather than a few large farms” is best for the county.

Brown’s motion, which was unanimously approved by Planning Commission members in attendance (with Clay Walker abstaining) included the following five points to be added to the county’s existing land use ordinance for land that is zoned Agricultural in Wilkes County.

“1. Require a Comprehensive Nutrient (waste) Management Plan for any operation requesting building permits for poultry houses where the new and any existing houses will total more than six houses per tract of land.

“2. Require that any adjacent landowner be notified 14 days prior to any hearing with the planning and zoning board when a producer is requesting to do anything involving poultry houses that requires a variance.

“3. No poultry houses can be constructed within 1,000 feet of a dwelling, or any other building actively being used as a school, hospital, church, nursing home, retirement home, or restaurant unless the owner of the building is in agreement to allow the poultry house to be fess than the 1,000 feet.

“4. Anyone, once this ordinance is adopted, whether they have 20 poultry houses or zero houses can get a permit to build up to six houses on any tract of land that meets the setback requirements. Once these houses are built neither the producer or anyone else can build houses on that tract or any other tract that is within 2,000 feet of these six houses for the next four years without requesting a variance. After four years the producer will be able to request an additional four houses on that same tract or another tract within the 2,000 feet of the existing houses and then he/she can request an additional four houses every four years after that. The four-year period will begin on the day the permit is issued for the sixth house on the tract.

“5. The section concerning Georgia Law 44-1-17 be added to our county ordinance and local attorneys and real estate agents be notified of this law and requirement on at least an annual basis.”

“I understand [this] lacks legal wording and design and recognize it will need to be reviewed by legal counsel before approval by the commissioners,” Brown added.

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