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Moratorium may have to be extended

A moratorium on the construction of chicken houses in Grady County may have to be extended county commissioners said Tuesday night.
Grady County administrator Carlos Tobar has not provided county attorney Kevin S. Cauley suggested revisions to the county’s code of ordinances regulating chicken houses that were discussed at a work session Cauley was not invited to two weeks ago.
“I’m still in the process of summarizing what was discussed and getting it to Kevin, so do we want to wait until the next meeting to set a date for the public hearing on the revised ordinance on chicken houses?” Tobar asked Tuesday night.
Commissioners agreed that a public hearing did not need to be held until a proposed revised ordinance was presented to them for their review. They said the moratorium could be extended if necessary.
Commissioner Ray Prince also requested Tobar investigate if there is a filtering system that can be required to be used on incinerators at local chicken houses to reduce the odors caused by the equipment.
“Some of the biggest complaints I have received are about the incinerators and the smell they put off. They can live with the chicken houses, but it is the incinerators that are the problem and moving them back away from the property line will not solve the problem,” Prince said.
Chairman Charles Norton also requested Tobar contact the state agriculture inspector for this area and launch an investigation into the dumping of dead chickens in county dumpsters on Old Newton Road.
Tuesday night, commissioners also heard from Durrel Cox and Gloria Smith, both north Grady County residents, who oppose the expansion of chicken houses in the county.
Cox said he had shared his concerns about the odor from the incinerators at the chicken house operation located next to his property on County Line Road.
Cox said he questions whether the dead birds are fully burned in the process. He believes “sediment” is floating up into the air and spreading a foul odor from the incinerators.
Ms. Smith also offered some proposed revisions to the county’s code of ordinances, including the notification of adjoining property owners by certified mail prior to a permit being issued by the county for the construction of a chicken house.
Smith is soliciting community members to band together to work with the county on solving issues related to chicken houses in the county.
The current county ordinance requires chicken houses to be set back 250 feet from the property line and 1,500 feet from a neighboring residence.
Commissioners are considering adding a restriction that any chicken house must be 100 feet from a water well; requiring a setback for incinerators; a setback from the flood plane; requiring a 30 foot vegetative buffer around chicken houses; and requiring a set of as-built plans for new chicken houses.
Cox and Smith both said that they had had surveys made to document violations by chicken house developers and county setback requirements. Cox said that Code Enforcement Officer Larry Ivy had said if Cox’s survey proved an error was made the county would reimburse him for the survey.
“I don’t think he had the authority to tell you that,” Chairman Norton said Tuesday night.
The county commission chairman told Ms. Smith the board would take her suggestions under advisement.

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