Cumberland Approves Poultry Processing Amendment

Published 12:05 pm Thursday, November 20, 2014

CUMBERLAND — It may be true that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, but Cumberland supervisors are working hard to lure one particularly plump economic bird into the coop.

During the November 18 meeting of the Cumberland Board of Supervisors, the board voted unanimously to allow poultry processing as a by-right use in Agricultural-2 zoning. The code amendment was unanimously recommended by the planning commission earlier this month.

“They feel comfortable recommending to the board that you can do poultry processing as a by-right use within the agricultural district with a set of development standards that a poultry processor would have to meet,” Planning Director Sara Carter explained to supervisors. The approved amendment means that no public hearings would need to be made before a large-scale processing facility located in the County, as long as all restrictions were met.

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Restrictions require a poultry processing facility to have direct access to U.S. routes 60, 13 or State Route 45; a 300-foot setback from property lines and existing residences; adherence to industrial standards regarding noise, lighting, odor, air/water pollution, and particulate emissions; provisions for water and wastewater access; and submission of a site plan.

The amendment was proposed on the recommendation of The Virginia Growth Alliance (VGA). The alliance, comprised of 11 localities, is working to attract a poultry processing plant to the region. Cumberland is one of the largest producers of broiler and meat-type chickens in the area. The large-scale poultry processing plant is estimated to bring 800 jobs, require at least 150 acres, and run 24-hours a day. A company, which has not been announced, is prepared to invest $100 million on the project, according to VGA Executive Director Jeff Reed.

During the public hearing, Cumberland citizen and former planning commissioner Patty Pedrick addressed the board in support of the amendment, urging them to not make restrictions too rigorous. “Our county needs this plant,” she said. “Our people need the jobs. Please do not send this economic opportunity to another town as we have done to other things in the past.”

Pointing out that agriculture was the largest single industry in Cumberland, Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, stated his support.

Cumberland and Amelia are two of the largest poultry producers in the state. The facility “would shorten the haul from our poultry operators and add that economic benefit to Cumberland County. So, it just hits on so many positive things from my perspective,” said Osl.

He and other board members commended Carter and the planning commission’s hard work in developing the amendment.

“I appreciate the constraints that were built into this,” said Osl, “if a facility were to come …we can do it in the proper way that is beneficial to the plant, but also to Cumberland County.”

Following little further discussion, the board approved the amendment unanimously.

In the end, the decision is up to the yet unnamed company. The County would likely not know of a decision to relocate in Cumberland until just before or afterwards, when they start asking for permits, according to Carter.

The following restrictions on poultry facility plants in agricultural zoning were summarized by Carter and presented in the board pack:

— A 300-foot setback from all property lines. Where there are adjacent existing dwellings, no structures or parking are allowed within the setback. Additionally, when adjacent to an existing residence, the 100 feet closest to the dwelling is required to include a heavily vegetated buffer.

— Direct access to Routes 13, 45, or 60 is required.

— Certification of public water and wastewater availability or provision for water and wastewater that does not create significant impacts to adjacent properties.

— Adherence to standards included from the industrial standards of Section 74-549 (a), which include, but not limited to: noise, lighting, air pollution, water pollution, smoke and particulate emissions, and odor.

— A requirement for the submission of a site plan.