Wicomico Extends Ag Tank Moratorium

SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County last week voted to extend a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for certain agricultural storage tanks.

Following a public hearing last week, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously in favor of a legislative bill extending a moratorium on the issuance of building permits for dissolved air flotation (DAF) storage tanks that hold poultry rendering waste. The moratorium will span a period of six months.

“This is not a delay,” said Councilman Josh Hastings. “We are thoughtfully going through legislation and have had good back-and-forth discussion. We will continue to do so, so we make sure we get a good product at the end of the day. This is just part of that process.”

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.

Two Porter Mill Road residents came before the council last week urging the county to extend its moratorium and to continue working with planning and zoning staff on legislation.

When asked last week what the county’s next steps would be regarding DAF tanks, Council President John Cannon said the council would hold additional work sessions in the coming months. Councilman Bill McCain added that discussions would resume in May.

“We’ll continue with work sessions,” Cannon replied. “As you remember, planning and zoning was in front of us last time and we had to cut that short … We’ll have another work session coming up relatively soon.”

After further discussion, the council voted unanimously to extend the DAF tank moratorium by six months.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

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.