Turkey houses discussed

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A proposed turkey facility in Buckingham moved forward following a public hearing by the Buckingham County Planning Commission Jan. 25. A second turkey facility was introduced during the meeting.

Five members of the public, many who live on the road of the proposed facility site, spoke during the hearing, requesting environmental impact studies and expressing concern about the turkey facility’s impact on neighbors.

The applicant, Benjamin Manis, spoke during the hearing. He said the two proposed turkey houses was a way to provide for his family.

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The proposed turkey facility would be located on approximately 100 acres on Deer Run Road.

The property is currently zoned A-1. The zoning ordinance in the county requires that intensive farming facilities be zoned AC-1.

The application cites that the project will include two poultry houses, feed bins and a liter shed, a memo from the county cited: “The applicant has indicated that he will be able to meet the ordinance setback requirements.”

There were seven conditions set out by the county should the poultry facility be approved. Some of the conditions include that the applicant obtain a Nutrient Management Plan and Erosion and Sediment Control Plan prior to installing the facility, that the facility follow federal, state and local regulations, and that any violations of the conditions could lead to a stop order and discontinuation of the rezoning approval.

The applicant would build the poultry facility for Cargill Foods.

The proposed turkey house at Deer Run Road is set to be considered by the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

A few members of the public requested an environmental impact study to explore the potential for impact to the area’s water or soil.

John Ramsay expressed concern that the facility’s development “would set a precedent” for similar projects to be established on Deer Run Road.

Speaker Marty Scott said he has had past experience of cattle and pigs from adjacent property on Deer Run Road entering his property and was concerned about the project’s impact.

“I’m worried about the pollution of soil,” speaker Annie Ramsay said. “I’m worried about the pollution of water. I’m worried about the odor.” She acknowledged while she understood the need to provide for one’s family, she asked it wouldn’t be installed at Deer Run Road.

Manis said he plans to drill two wells to support the facility, one of those wells would be used for backup. Manis said he expects the permit to drill the wells would be approved.

District Seven commissioner Alice Gormus asked about work taking place at the property with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Manis said a VDOT engineer is establishing site lines and determining the best location for a driveway.

Manis said some of the government agency closures have had an impact on making the site qualify for the turkey facility.

Manis said he and his family live at the proposed site for the turkey facility.

One citizen asked about the difference between an agricultural zoning district and agricultural comprehensive zoning district.

District Five commissioner and vice chairman Sammy Smith said the agricultural comprehensive zoning district allows for more intensive agricultural industry.

Gormus asked if Manis would consider an environmental impact study.

District Three commissioner R. Patrick Bowe said the approval needed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would be necessary for the project.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Rebecca Cobb said the special use permit includes requirements for nutrient management plan, erosion and sediment control plan, permits and inspections, and other requirements from DEQ to be installed in order to operate the facility.

Manis said he is working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to conduct a study that involves environment impact. He said if the FSA determines a major environmental impact to the area, they would shut down the project.

“It’s going to be studied … by more than one agency,” Manis said.

District Six commissioner Chet Maxey said while he advocated for residents’ right to use their land, he said the comments and hydraulic issues gave him pause.

Manis said the amount of water needed for the turkey houses would come to approximately 20,000 gallons a day, with potentially more on hot days or for larger birds.

“This is the same land that I live on,” Manis said. “This is the same land that I hunt. This is the same land I raise my children on. If I thought there was any chance of us harming the water, I’d stop immediately.”

Concerning air dispersion, Manis said the facility would be tunnel ventilated. He said the facility is expected to pull air from the roadway and push it away from the road. He said the turkey houses he has visited have less of an ammonia odor than chicken houses.

“We’re going to try to do the least amount of damage possible,” Manis said.

A second turkey house project was introduced during the meeting. The applicant, Justin Bryan, requested a rezoning to construct a turkey house on 86 acres of land in the Francisco Magisterial District.

The two proposed turkey houses would be 63 by 704 feet.