Council Passes Moratorium On Ag Storage Tanks

SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County agreed this month to impose a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for certain agricultural storage tanks.

On Nov. 5, the Wicomico County Council voted to pass legislation declaring a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for agricultural storage tanks that hold waste, or sludge, from poultry renderings.

Earlier this year, Wicomico County Planning, Zoning and Community Development issued a building permit that would allow a local farmer to construct a three-million-gallon storage tank containing poultry by-products on his property in the area of Porter Mill Road. Since that time, several nearby residents have shared their concerns with the council regarding the potential smells and hazards associated with the tank.

While the moratorium on building permits would not affect that particular project, officials in Wicomico County argued it would allow for further review of the permitting process and zoning issues in agricultural areas.

“This is just a temporary moratorium because we don’t want another one of these million-gallon tanks to pop up in a neighborhood and we get a new group of people in here complaining,” Councilman Larry Dodd said last month. “It’s just temporary … I just want to make sure we are doing the right thing.”

The legislation was initially introduced last month as a one-year moratorium. At the time, however, the council agreed to amend the moratorium to six months.

And last week, the council voted 6-1, with Councilman Ernie Davis opposed, to pass the moratorium. In a discussion last month, Davis was vocal in is opposition of the moratorium.

“I think we are getting ahead of ourselves,” he said.

Council Administrator Laura Hurley said the moratorium will go into effect after being signed by the county executive.

“I believe it is 60 days from the date that the county executive signs,” she said.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.