By Lon Anderson
The Hardy County Planning Commission at its August meeting began a major effort to ensure that any agricultural “mega-projects” that are built in the County in the future will be subject to regulatory scrutiny so that impacts to residents and the environment are considered before construction begins.
This effort, of course, comes in response to the much-publicized 20-chicken house “mega-project” now under construction near Old Fields. Because Hardy County’s current agriculture zoning ordinance was designed to encourage all kinds of agricultural activity, the County couldn’t challenge the project, and had no cause to notify residents in nearby subdivisions about it.
The 20 large poultry houses are expected to hold about a million chickens and draw over 400,000 gallons of water daily from the local wells that will supply it. Many local residents attended the June Planning Commission meeting to express frustrations and concerns about issues including their air quality, their wells running dry and a decline in their property values.
For all of these reasons, the County Commission instructed Planning Commission President Lee Lehman to find a way that to ensure that the County did not face a similar situation in the future.