Local chicken farm fight continues [The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pa.]By Steve Marroni, The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Aug. 12--Rose Koufos has lived on her farm in Huntington Township since 1974. Her children and grandchildren were born there. It's their home, she said, and they love the family farm where they grow oats, straw and corn.
It's been a peaceful life, which she says is now threatened by an incoming poultry farm projected to house 80,000 chickens.
Township supervisors approved a plan in December, giving Brenda Weaver and Roxey Sauble the go-ahead to convert part of their 340-acre Rolling Road farm into a concentrated poultry operation, which will include two barns with 40,000 chickens each.
The township at the time said municipalities are prevented from blocking such farms due to the state's ACRE law -- short
for Agriculture, Community and Rural Environment. That law allows the state Attorney General's office to review local land-use ordinances and file court cases seeking to overturn them if deemed to be too restrictive to concentrated farms.
Koufos, along with neighbors Anastasia Jones, Elizabeth Hower and Carl Purvenas-Smith, filed an appeal in Adams County court shortly after the township's approval, claiming the supervisors erred in their decision because the eggs will be used to develop vaccinations, making it an "animal laboratory" as opposed to an "intensive poultry operation," according to the appeal.
The appeal says supervisors abused their discretion in approving the farm because Weaver and Sauble failed to adequately prove
that they will have enough property to meet standards for manure management, erosion, sediment control and conservation practices in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
While Adams County President Judge John D. Kuhn did not deny the appeal, he concluded in March it has "no likelihood of success," and granted the poultry farm's petition to impose a $70,000 bond upon the neighbors in order for them to continue with the appeal.
Maria Payan, of the Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, was brought in to help the neighbors. Her group was started in Peach Bottom Township in southern York County several years ago to fight a large proposed pig farm. According to its website, the group is dedicated to fighting industries it says will harm residents' health, the environment, property values and quality of life.
Payan said the poultry farm in Huntington Township is now under construction, and it is out of compliance because the two manure storage buildings are being built too close to the neighboring properties. On Thursday, Payan and the neighbors asked township supervisors to order the farm to halt construction until it can be brought into compliance.
She said supervisors have not yet made a decision on how to address their complaints, or if they will.
Payan said the manure-storage buildings are being built 70 feet away from one neighbor, and less than 300 feet from another. State regulations dictate these buildings must be set back more than 200 feet from a property -- or 300 feet in the second property's case because of the slope.
"The buildings are out of compliance, and the neighbors are very, very upset," Payan said. "They're worried about their farms and their livelihood."
In order for manure-storage buildings to be built so close, state regulations require a waiver from the neighbors, but she said the neighbors were never even approached.
"There will be 80,000 chickens there," Payan said. "We're talking a lot of poop."
In addition to the manure buildings, Payan said the chicken farm is also out of compliance because it has withdrawn its odor-management plan. Having such a plan in place was part of the conditional use the township had granted when it gave its approval, she said.
Township supervisors David Boyer, Ron Zepp and Mark Leer and township solicitor Robert Campbell did not return phone calls for comment Friday.
The Saubles would not comment Friday on the construction of their chicken farm, and a call placed to the Weaver farm was not returned.
Koufos and the other neighbors are worried about their ability to farm. Through her attorney, Charles Speer, she sent a letter to the egg farm stating her intent to file suit if construction is not brought into compliance.
Apart from the proximity of the manure-storage building, she said neighbors are also losing water pressure, and said they are woken up by construction sometimes as early as 2 a.m.
"Our quality of life has taken a turn downward," Koufos said.
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ABOUT THE HOG FARM FIGHT
The Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, which was involved with fighting a concentrated hog farm in Peach Bottom Township, is helping the neighbors near a proposed poultry farm with 80,000 chickens in Huntington Township.
CAFO denial: In 2007, owners of the Gemmill farm in Peach Bottom Township proposed adding a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation that would house up to 4,400 hogs.
The township zoning hearing board -- after hearings that stretched for 16 months -- denied the CAFO application in 2008. The board based the decision on a township regulation requiring that CAFOs be placed on poor-quality farm ground. The Gemmill family already had a permit for the operation from the state Department of Environmental Protection, contingent upon township approval.
Expansion: While the Gemmills waited for the state to get involved, they went forward with an expansion to house about 2,450 hogs, falling below the 2,999- hog CAFO threshold.
AG action: In August 2009, the state Attorney General's Office filed a complaint against Peach Bottom, saying the township's zoning ordinance violated the state's Right to Farm Act. In November, the township amended its ordinance to get in compliance with state law.
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