Growers who have been working with government agencies, such as the conservation districts, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and/or the university Extension Service on the construction of new houses, will examine the proposed site with consideration given to the guidelines in this document, including but not limited to density of poultry houses on the property; the configuration of houses, manure storage buildings, and carcass-handling systems as they relate to neighbors; the placement of ventilation fans to minimize disturbances to neighbors; the need for and/or early design of Vegetative Environmental Buffers; the potential spread of diseases; and outreach to adjacent property owners early in the process to minimize neighbor concerns.
While existing poultry houses will not be moved to accommodate neighbors, poultry growers need to be mindful of certain circumstances that could minimize inconveniences to neighbors. Attention should be paid to possible locations of future residential housing in relation to the farm. Although it is not possible to plan for every contingency, we can use good judgment about forecasting future development.
All new poultry houses and manure storage buildings must adhere to standards that meet county zoning regulations.
These standards include proximity to adjoining property, adjoining dwellings, adjoining public use facilities, public roads, and even neighboring poultry houses. The exceptions would be those requested by growers with existing poultry houses and approved by the county zoning authorities. They must adhere to zoning ordinances in effect at the time that permitting was approved.
To create consistency among Delmarva's counties, the following standards are endorsed by Delmarva's poultry industry. These minimum standards in some counties may be less than what now is in effect. In those situations, we do not propose to loosen the existing standards. The voluntary guidelines shown below will apply to new poultry houses on a farm, but not for new houses replacing old, out of production houses or now-destroyed houses. For replacement houses on existing farms, county land use and zoning authorities are urged to keep in mind the economic investments growers have and to grandfather poultry production on that site to allow them to continue their agricultural businesses in agricultural areas even if the new houses do not meet the voluntary standards shown below. Existing setbacks for existing poultry houses will be extended to new poultry houses on existing poultry farms to allow consistency on the property and to avoid economic hardship for growers wishing to expand their operations.
For new poultry houses and accessory structures, it is our goal to have a minimum 400 foot setback with a buffer from a legal residential dwelling not on the poultry farm. There can be a site specific reduction of the 400 foot setback with installation of additional buffers to create a setback of no less than 300 feet.
New poultry houses and accessory structures should be a minimum of 200 feet from the center of the public road with installation of a minimum 25 foot-wide Vegetative Environmental Buffer.
New poultry houses and accessory buildings should have a minimum setback of 100 feet from property lines with a recommended 50 foot-wide buffer or a 25 foot-wide buffer with increased plant density.
As part of the construction of poultry houses, growers should plan and install vegetative buffers of specifically selected trees and tall grasses to capture air emissions from the houses and to use nutrients already in the soil near the houses. Poultry companies and lenders are urged to consider the need for and/or early design of Vegetative Environmental Buffers as a prerequisite for placing birds in the houses.
New poultry houses should be sited to allow adequate vehicle access without jeopardizing safety on public roads while minimizing noise-related concerns for adjoining properties. Farm entrances should be strategically placed as far from neighboring dwellings as practical while still allowing adequate vehicle access to the poultry farms. In other words, driveways should not be placed next to neighbors if workable alternatives exist.
Particular attention should be given to the configuration of poultry houses and manure structures/composters on poultry farms. Tunnel fans, necessary for maintaining good air quality and optimum bird welfare conditions, need to be located on the ends of the houses where there is minimal inconvenience to neighbors. When making these decisions, growers and poultry companies should consider the direction of prevailing winds and the proximity to neighbors' homes and properties to prevent, as far as practical, noise pollution, visual disturbances, and the movement of odors, dust, and feathers to adjoining properties. While such things are normal for poultry farms and should not be considered nuisances in agriculturally zoned areas, they could be objectionable to persons not familiar with chicken production. While state and county right to farm laws should exonerate poultry growers from such complaints, growers need to make every effort, when practical, to minimize such practices that some people could consider offensive. Even when poultry houses and manure structures/composters are properly located to avoid neighbor disturbances, Vegetative Environmental Buffers should be encouraged.
In addition, growers will work to operate manure storage structures and carcass composters to minimize objections to persons on adjoining properties, dwellings, and public roads. As with poultry houses, they should be placed according to county ordinances. Such environmental practices should be sited so the interior of these structures is not visible to travelers and neighbors.