A Fairfield County property owner spoke during a County Council public hearing last Monday evening to request his land be zoned for a turkey farm. The request came only three months after the County adopted a new countywide land use plan that relegated turkey farmers to specific, isolated locations.
The zoning reclassification request was brought by David B. Nidiffer Jr., requesting his 142-acre parcel on Horsecreek Road near I-77 be changed from RD-1 (Rural Residential) to RD (Rural Resource District). The land is not located where the County designated zoning for poultry farming.
“I intend to invest in a $1.5 million ‘Circle S Turkey’ operation,” Nidiffer, who lives in Columbia, told the Council. “It will generate $20,000 yearly in taxes for the County. Plum Creek owns the majority of land around the property. To my knowledge, there are no residents living nearby.”
Nidiffer, who has owned the property for 13 years, said his college-age son will move to the property to operate the business. He said the six turkey houses he is planning will be situated on only 10 of the acres.
“The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Services (DHEC) will have to approve the plans,” said Nidiffer. “The houses will be air conditioned. The birds will go to Louis Rich in Newberry and manure will be removed from the property once a year and taken to a farm I have in Sumter County.”
Ron Stowers, Fairfield County Director of Planning, Building and Zoning, told the Council the Turkey operation would be three quarters of a mile from the nearest resident.
“There was one petition against the rezoning,” said County Council Chairman David Ferguson, “from Allen Mattox.” Mattox, who lives in Leesville, owns 68 acres adjoining Nidiffer’s western boundary. Another nearby property owner, Terry Mills, was in attendance, and spoke to the Council.
“I have submitted to you a study from the EPA about Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO),” Mills said. “These things (turkeys) smell ridiculous. If this was another kind of industry that polluted as much as this CAFO does, DHEC wouldn’t allow it. The stench is unbelievable and the ammonia stench is overwhelming. I bought this property as an investment for future industry and that won’t happen if this rezoning is allowed to happen.”
According to the EPA, CAFOs are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. CAFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields or on rangeland.
The issue was put to the first of three ordinance readings to change the zoning for the Nidiffer property to allow for turkey farming. The Council passed it unanimously.