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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Letter to the Editor

Planning commission should support comprehensive plan


I attended the April 4 planning commission meeting in Snow Hill because a text amendment was being introduced to allow farm-based slaughterhouses to be used in A-1 zoned land, 400 feet from residential homes (Text Amendment ZS 1-201 (c)(34) – Farm-based Slaughterhouses in the A-1 Agricultural District).

I live in a residential community that will be directly affected by this text amendment. I had never attended a planning committee meeting so I did not know what to expect. I witnessed two members state that they grew up as “farm girls” so they saw no reason to not vote favorably for this text amendment. Another member stated she just had a problem with the name “slaughterhouse” in which giggles erupted from other members of the planning board. Geez, I am here fighting for my community, quality of life, health, and environment and this committee is “giggling!”

One member said our neighborhood should be thankful a hog or chicken farm wasn’t coming into our community because they really smell. Three members stated they received our neighborhood letters affirming how having a slaughterhouse in our community would negatively affect our quality of life, our health, and our environment but they did not see our perspective at all. They had no facts to back their statements just that they had driven up and down our street prior to the meeting. The text amendment unanimously passed as a favorable recommendation and will now move on to the next step in the approval process.

I left the meeting feeling frustrated, perplexed, and anxious thinking maybe I misunderstood the purpose of this planning commission. I looked up the purpose of the planning commission on the Worcester County Government website and it states the “Planning Commission reviews draft development guidelines and development standards such as the Scenic Transportation Corridor for US Route 50 and US Route 113, and the Commercial Design Guidelines. Also, the Planning Commission plays an active role in the updates to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code.”

Well, what is the Comprehensive Plan? “The Comprehensive Plan provides a framework for jurisdictions to protect and enhance their community character and natural and cultural heritage, preserve environmental resources, and foster economic development by planning for their long-term land use, transportation, housing, water resources, and other public infrastructure needs and identify the actions the County will need to take to meet these needs and achieve the planning goals that relate to them.”

The Planning Commission stipulated the following from the meeting I attended: The name “slaughterhouse” was troublesome “giggle, giggle,” driving up and down a neighborhood street is research, members who grew up as “farm girls” assume everyone else in the county should share in their “farm girl” perspective, and be glad something worse isn’t going to happen to your neighborhood because it very well can.

I am not seeing how this is supporting the comprehensive plan of Worcester County. I have seen high school debate teams take on subjects more seriously than this planning committee. There are close to 40 farms in Worcester County that qualify, under this text amendment, for on-farm slaughtering (400 feet from residential housing).

This is a subject that requires serious questions and inquiries on effects on the community, the environment, etc., especially when placing slaughterhouses 400 feet from residential housing and neighborhoods. This is a place we want to call home.  My husband and I wanted to retire with sand between our toes. It looks like we can either trade our sandals in for farm boots or get the heck out of Worcester County, which is exactly what we are going to be doing!

Pamela Paulson