By Terry Rogers
On Thursday, March 13, the City of Milford Board of Assessments held a public hearing regarding a request from Perdue for a waiver to the 50 foot setback requirement for neighboring properties. The company planned to demolish an existing shed used to hold live birds for their organic chicken processing and replace it with a new one, which would be placed in alignment with another live holding shed on the property.
“We are currently attempting to give the trucks that deliver live birds better access to the sheds where they are stored,” said John Shahan, the engineer for the project. “There are two sheds in the location we are discussing. One is an older shed that we plan to tear down. The other is more modern and an easement was granted for this shed around eight years ago.” The request was asking for an easement of 29.59 feet, as the new shed would only be 20.1 feet from the property of Donald Tatman.
“The idea of the new shed is to provide better conditions for the chickens,” said Dean Walston, Director of Operations for Perdue’s Milford Plant. “These birds are organic and are worth $6 each, twice as much as non-organic birds. The Milford Plant will eventually be an entirely organic processing plant, and when we complete the conversion, will be the largest organic chicken processing plant in the country. Therefore, we need to improve the condition of how these birds are stored in order to minimize losses.”
Commission member, Brendon Warfel, asked whether this would allow the company to store more chickens and if fans would be installed in the new sheds. “The new shed will have the same capacity as the old shed, and we would be installing electric fans in the building,” said Mr. Shahan. “There may be additional fans in the new building than in the old one, but noise level increases should be minimal.”
Donald Tatman, whose property borders the area where the new sheds would be installed opposed the request due to what he felt would be increased noise in an area that already generated a considerable amount of sound. “We have owned the farmland next to the plant since 1948,” Mr. Tatman testified. “The noise from those fans is unreal already, and, on days that are really hot, they bring in big diesel fans that are so loud we can’t even have our windows open in the spring or summer. On top of that, that building they want to tear down muffles the sound somewhat, so if they tear that down, we will have no buffer against the sound of those fans.”
Commission member, Keith Gramling, asked if other neighbors had problems with the noise, and Mr. Tatman explained that he and his daughter were the closest neighbors. Other residents in the area were renters and felt they had no say in the matter.
“We have a setback of 50 feet for a reason,” Commissioner Warfel said. “My only problem is that, although this is farmland now, we all know how Milford is growing. There could be houses there someday. What would be the possibility of planting trees to buffer the noise?”
Mr. Walston said that Perdue would prefer not installing landscaping due to the maintenance required, but that the company would be willing to install vinyl slats in an existing chain link fence as additional noise buffering. The request was approved unanimously with the stipulation that Perdue install chain link slats of some material that would provide better noise buffering in order to provide relief to neighboring properties.