County Extends Ag Tank Moratorium

SALISBURY – County leaders have agreed to introduce new legislation extending a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for certain agricultural storage tanks.

Last week, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to introduce a legislative bill extending a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for dissolved air flotation (DAF) storage tanks that hold poultry rendering waste.

“We want to get further details on these types of containers and other processes to hold materials that are closely aligned with DAF,” said Councilman Josh Hastings.

The topic of DAF tanks was first introduced in 2019, when Wicomico County Planning, Zoning and Community Development issued a building permit allowing a local farmer to construct a three-million-gallon storage tank containing byproducts on his property in the area of Porter Mill Road. Several nearby residents, however, have since shared their concerns with the council regarding the smells and potential hazards associated with the tank. There has also been litigation in Wicomico County Circuit Court challenging the validity of that storage tank and the permit issued for its construction.

While the moratorium – first enacted in 2019 – does not affect that particular project, officials in Wicomico County agreed it would allow for further review of the permitting process and zoning issues related to DAF storage tanks. In recent months, for example, the county council and planning and zoning staff have met to discuss proposed zoning amendments relating to agricultural storage tanks.

“The storage of waste byproduct known as DAF – that includes matter from the washdown – is a concern voiced by county residents who reside near the locations where it’s being applied,” council attorney Andrew Mitchell said last week. “The county previously determined further study of DAF tank matter is needed, and the county has, in fact, undertaken such a study. Planning and Zoning is working that up, and it has been presented.”

Mitchell added that the legislation introduced last week would extend the moratorium for a period of six months.

“The council desires to avoid issuance of permits for tanks or facilities for its use, continuing the moratorium on the issuance of such permits imposed by legislative bills 2019-07, 2020-01, 2020-13 and 2021-05 to allow the county council time to review legislative recommendations submitted by the Wicomico County Planning and Zoning Commission pertaining to the storage of DAF material …,” he said. “The legislative bill will take effect 60 days after its passage unless a proper petition for referendum is filed.”

A motion to introduce the moratorium extension passed unanimously.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.