Blackfalds poultry project approved, despite objections

A 150,000 broiler chicken operation has been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board despite strong objections from the Town of Blackfalds.

A 150,000 broiler chicken operation has been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board despite strong objections from the Town of Blackfalds.

Joe and Cathy Luyks of Crystal Poultry Ltd. want to build three poultry barns and three concrete manure storage pads on land they own about 1.8 km southwest of the town.

That is too close, town officials contend, saying that allowing the poultry farm to go ahead will create odour problems, air quality issues and other nuisances.

Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol said on Friday that the town can live with the decision since it received what she described as a fair hearing.

“The NRCB weighed all the evidence and we had a fair hearing.

“It’s disappointing. We think it’s a little too close to Blackfalds,” Stol said.

“We wish them (Luykses) all the best. We know they are business people who are just trying to make a successful business.”

Stol said the town contended the area in Lacombe County where the poultry farm will be located has been earmarked for future industrial and commercial development and falls within the town’s long-term growth area.

“We just hope that everyone lives up to the conditions set out by the NRCB,” she said.

Stol also said the area is still a farming community.

The town contemplated an appeal but decided against it, she said.

Many of the municipality’s concerns are based on past experience with the Luykses, who ran a similar poultry farm right next to the town for years. Nearby residents frequently complained about the smell from the poultry farm when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.

As Blackfalds grew, the land the farm was on was annexed and then purchased from the Luykses about two years ago. The town built its new RCMP and fire station on part of the site and put the rest of the land up for sale.

The town fears past problems will be repeated at the new site.

NRCB approval officer Francisco Echegaray acknowledges the Luykses and the town have a history. But he notes there is no record of non-compliance or complaints with the previous operation.

Echegaray adds that the nature and location of the previous operation are “sufficiently distinct that the supposed impacts of that operation shed little light on the potential impacts of the proposed new operation outside of the town’s boundary.”

Planning documents don’t support that contention, says Echegaray, who notes the poultry operation complies with the county’s municipal development plan.

The poultry operation also meets NRCB regulations.

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