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Chicken farmer faces bucket of trouble over simple severance

Council approved a request to sever and re-zone land in Ameliasburgh that neigbouring residents are concerned may become a chicken farm.

After hearing from residents, and questions from council, Engineering and Development Commission Robert McAuley said he detected a general thought that somehow the zoning was allowing the chicken barn, and noted the property is already zoned to permit one.

He clarified the zoning request is removing some uses already permitted on the property (fabrication and storage of vehicles) to take the property from an ‘exception’ to a uniform agriculture and farming zone.

“It just has to meet the nutrient management plan which, it has demonstrated it can. So they would be entitled, arguably, to a building permit today, without the severance and without the re-zoning.”

Several Victoria Road neighbours told council Tuesday night they were concerned about water quality and quantity, effects on wells, property values, odour noise and location of a new broiler barn that farmer Jeremy Prinzen is investigating to expand his existing business on County Road 3.

Neighbour Mac Cirtwill was concerned the effect on water in the area – wells, the creek and Weller’s Bay.

“There was a time the use of this piece of property polluted the streams and into Weller’s Bay. The fish were dying. The wildlife near it was dying and it took years for that stream to recover… I’m not opposed to a chicken barn, I just think this is not the place. It’s not about ‘not in my backyard’. We need to have upfront information that says this is the right plan in the right place. This is not just a neighbour’s dispute.”

Neighbour Patti Parks lives directly across from the property and expressed concerns the proposed 25,600 foot facility that would house 28,000 broiler chickens on a nine-week cycle.

“We are being forced to inhale tons of airborne emissions such as sulfer, ammonia, nitrogen to name a few,” she said, noting air-quality concerns with all the chicken farms near the area. “The proposed chicken barn is marked as 425 feet from our house, 570 feet from our barn that does have livestock and 375 feet from our well… and nine wells in the area.

“We raise healthy chickens for consumption in Ontario,” said Prinzen, who operates a 65,000 chicken farm on County Road 3. “If ammonia and dust levels get too high, we cannot raise healthy chickens. Our farms are audited and inspected… I have heard the concerns and we will do our best to mitigate any effects. Our one barn is only 100 feet from our back porch. I won’t tell you chickens don’t smell. They just don’t smell every day of the year. There can be a few days at the end of the cycle where the aroma is higher than normal.”

He said a barn could be moved back further than required by OMAFRA, but he doesn’t want to commit to a specific distance until he has investigated other aspects of the proposed barn, including adequate water availability.

“If I can’t find water then I won’t be putting a barn there.”

His current business and this proposal involve manure being removed from the barn and taken to the mushroom farm in Wellington.

Motions by councillors to seek hydrogeological studies on water quality and quantity were lost in votes.

The land’s current owner, Ben Thompson told council he now wishes the opportunity to sell land had never happened.

This is the fourth time in 20 years that I have had the chance to make more money from the farm than we ever could farming it. The first was stopped by a neighbour to the east, the third by (premier) Kathleen Wynne cancelling solar farms,” he said. “In this severance we have lost focus. It has become sidetracked by the possibility of a future broiler farm. If I had applied for a severance for the purpose of selling 100 acres to generate cash for my retirement, I would think it likely this would have been over and done in January. But because Mr. Prinzen and I were above board about the reason for the sale of the land, we have created a problem for ourselves. … Even if the sale of the land is completed, I will not forget what has been said, and implied.”

“I really don’t think a proposed broiler farm will kill every living thing down wind from it,” said Thompson. “This is a farm, in a farming area. Farmers make noise. They make dust and they make pretty horrendous smells when they spread manure and sometimes, they build another barn. This is a farm, not a subdivision. If you buy or build in the country you should expect to be faced with what goes on, on a farm.”

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  1. Ian says:

    Lay back a little…meant for both sides.
    Factory farms are a fact, families follow success, CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are efficient and quota follows. Moving these broiler barns further apart moves families. Given.
    Concentrating concentrated factory farms is a bad idea. Diversity is more healthy all round. Given.
    Choose to follow the money or stay close to home, it’s a choice.
    Locate “as far as possible from neighbours” is recommendation #2 in everybodies books.

  2. hockeynan says:

    Very well put Mr Thompson. No mater what goes on in this county some one has to stick there nose in it.Maybe we should return the favor when they want to do something

  3. wevil says:

    Ben i agree with you if you build out in the country here in the County you are building next to farms

  4. Judy wetherall says:

    Could someone please look into why they don’t have to follow the county policy on building 750ft from a house or a barn. I live on Victoria Road and call the county to inquired about severing a lot and I was told because there was a barn on the property next door which was closer then 800ft it wouldn’t be possible and this was within the last year that I called. So why are they able to build so close to the Park’s home? You can be sure within a few years there will be more barns built there and they have it laid out very carefully. There is also another chicken farm on Smokes Point road a very old chicken far but now with expansion they were able to get away with building on wetlands.
    Lots of interesting things going on in the county.
    I am not opposed to the chicken farm, but they need to follow the policy’s just like the rest of the residents that live in Prince Edward County.
    Judy Wetherall

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