A moratorium on construction of new chicken houses in Grady County, in effect since May, was lifted last Wednesday during a special called meeting of the Grady County Commission.
Commissioners also held a public hearing on proposed amendments to the county specific land use regulations regarding chicken houses.
Following the public hearing, a tougher ordinance was unanimously adopted and the new rules went into effect immediately, according to county leaders.
Under the amended Grady County code of ordinances, chicken houses cannot be constructed until a final “as built” survey is provided to the county code enforcement department. This will require developers to show that structures are built consistent with the site plan and comply with setback requirements that were already a part of the code.
The stricter ordinance now requires that no livestock buildings or structures can be erected less than 100 feet from the boundary of the 100 year flood zone.
Grady County code now requires each facility to have a dry stack house for dry composting of poultry manure and the stack houses cannot be located closer than 100 feet from any drinking water well. The amended ordinance requires stack houses have concrete floors and be covered from exposure to rain and sunlight.
The amended law further stipulates that incinerators used to burn and destroy dead chickens must have a secondary combustion chamber.
The code states that each facility will have a 30-foot wide grass buffer and be maintained as long as the facility is in operation.
Tall Timbers planning coordinator Neil Fleckenstein was the only person to speak during the public hearing last week and he voiced support for the amendments. Fleckenstein had also made recommendations to the county commission during the review of the old ordinance and most of his suggestions were included in the amended ordinance.
The county ordinance maintains requirements that chicken houses be set back 250 feet from the property line and 1,500 feet from a neighboring residence.
According to Fleckenstein, there are between 700 and 800 chicken houses in Colquitt County and there is no more room for more so developers are looking to other counties like Grady. Because chicken houses have to be located within a 50-mile radius of a processing plant, north Grady County has become attractive to potential developers of new chicken houses.
The Grady County Commission issued the moratorium in May to give themselves time to review possible amendments to the existing chicken house ordinance after hearing complaints from local property owners who neighbor property where new chicken houses have been constructed.