Worcester Co. passes new poultry regulations

Worcester Co. passes new poultry...

WORCESTER CO., Md. - Tuesday afternoon, Worcester County Commissioners voted to make changes to the way the poultry industry operates in the county.

During a public hearing, residents and members of the poultry industry voiced their opinions on a proposed poultry bill in Worcester County.

"The proposed zoning regulations are deficient in many areas," says Kathy Phillips, the Assateague Coastkeeper.

"If you put a cap or number or something that could eventually hurt agriculture in Worcester," says Alan Hudson, the President of the Worcester County Farm Bureau.

Despite the  comments and concerns about the proposed legislation, County Commissioners voted unanimously to pass it.

"This bill does make material changes in the way poultry operations in the county," says Ed Tudor,the Director
for the Department of Development Review and Permitting for Worcester County.

One of those changes is limiting the number of poultry houses per parcel to just 8. As well as increasing the distance between a poultry house and the adjacent property.

"It also significantly increases the setback of poultry houses, from what today is 50 feet, to 200 feet," says Tudor.

The new legislation also sets buffer requirements, which is vegetation that is planted between and or around the poultry operation.

"It has very specific recommendations and requirements of how this buffer is to be planted or maintained," says Tudor.

The majority of the folks that spoke up on Tuesday say they are happy the county is taking a step to address the  growing poultry industry.

"We appreciate the commissioners willingness to come up with with a reasonable plan ," says Bill Satterfield, from the Delmarva Poultry Industry.

"I pretty much i agree with the most of what they had," says Hudson.

However, some feel that more can still be done to address the pollutants that are released from chicken houses. One idea that was mentioned during the public hearing was to include warm season grass as a type of vegetation buffer between chicken houses.

"There is no mention of warm season grasses in that first row, and we'd like to see that warm season grasses be put in there just because it is so efficient," says Jim Passwaters, from the Delmarve Poultry Industry.

Worcester County officials say the bill will take effect in 45 days.

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