Worcester County Adopts New Zoning For Large Poultry Farms

A New Food Economy article (2017-04-25) reported that the Worcester County Board of County Commissioners has passed County Bill 17-3, which creates more rigorous zoning classification for large poultry farms. From the article:

A standard chicken house has over 40,000 square feet of floor space and will hold tens of thousands of birds. The new law stipulates that only eight of those chicken houses can be built on any parcel of land. In addition, large operations—defined as farms with more than five houses on one property—must set all structures at least 200 feet back from all property lines, and build a three-rowed buffer of trees and vegetation along the boundary. …

Worcester is following the lead of two neighboring counties on the Delmarva Peninsula, the easternmost part of Maryland, which juts like a talon into the Atlantic. In August, Somerset County passed a similar law, and was followed closely by Wicomico County. The Delmarva region, which also includes much of Delaware, is one of the country’s most prolific producers of meat chickens. In 2014, farms there produced 596 million broilers, or chickens raised for meat—almost 7 percent of the country’s total production on just a tiny fraction of its land mass.

The new rule won’t change much for existing operations with more than eight barns. They’ll have to build the buffers, and they won’t be able to add any new facilities without subdividing property, but their existing operations will otherwise be grandfathered in.

Useful Links

Worcester County Website

Worcester County Bill 17-3