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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OMB rules in favour of hog barn expansion beyond MDS II formula

Frans and Hannie VanderZanden (Applicants) own and operate a 26.5 ha (65.5 ac.) farm on the west side of Palmyra Road, in the Community of Orford. The property contains one large livestock barn and three smaller barns with an existing capacity of 2,400 feeder hogs. They planned to expand their operation by building a new 32 m (105 ft.) x 29.5 m (97 ft.) addition to the south side of the existing large finishing barn. The new addition would add capacity for an additional 900 hogs.  The MDS II formula requires a minimum setback from the nearest lot lines. The proposed addition will only be 16 m (52 ft.) from the nearest lot line as opposed to the required which is the same setback of the existing barn to which the addition is proposed. Therefore, the proposed expansion of the livestock facility would require a reduction in the setback to the nearest lot line from 30 m (98 ft.) to 16 m (52 ft.).  VanderZanden applied successfully to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for a minor variance.

Bobbi Plumridge (Appellant) is a 20 year resident of the area, living  approximately 1 kilometre from the Subject Property, and opposed the application.  She says that when she purchased her home in 1990, the Subject Property consisted of 3 modest sized barns and a manure lagoon and the newer larger barn next to the grey drain did not yet exist. A new barn with 10,000 sq. ft. was added between 1994-1995. Since then, there have been several incidences over the years with manure not being properly contained, including spills from underground into the grey drain and also into Lake Erie. According to Ms Plumridge, a previous application to expand the operation at the Subject Property was refused because of manure spills and accidents. She is concerned not only about the above ground spills but also the underground spills that occur. Ms Plumridge contends that the proposal calls for too many hogs/pigs for this land base and that currently 78% of the manure needs to be trucked off site.

The municipality and the applicants were represented by the same lawyer at the hearing.  Both sides presented evidence and, following the hearing, the OMB ruled in favour of the municipality's decision to allow the barn expansion in spite of the MDS II setback requirement:

Therefore, the Board agrees with and adopts the planning evidence and opinions of Mr. Brown. The Board finds that the proposed variance is desirable because it helps to conserve farmland by expanding on an existing site instead of utilizing a whole other new site. The use here is an existing and permitted use in the OP; therefore it maintains the intent and purpose of the OP. The proposed variance maintains the existing setback and thereby maintains the general intent of the ZBL which is to minimize land-use conflicts caused by odours and the like. The proposed extension/expansion maintains an existing condition, and as such it will not be located any closer to the lot line than what already exists. The variance is minor because the neighbouring land use is passive farming and there are no significant impacts resulting from the shortened setback.

The Board is satisfied in this instance, that the proposed variance to facilitate the expansion of the existing hog operation meets the tests in subsection 45 (1) of the Planning Act, is in the public interest, and represents good planning. The Board notes that expansion of the existing facility includes utilizing the existing/proposed setback was also endorsed by Mr. Faber, who prepared the nutrient management study approved by OMAFRA.
Read the decision at: Plumridge v. Municipality of Chatham-Kent.