The fate of a chicken farm located about eight km southeast of Ponoka is in the hands of a review panel of Alberta’s Natural Resources Conservation Board.
A decision, based on submissions made to the review panel in Ponoka on Wednesday, is expected in four to six weeks.
Earlier this year, Henk and Gerrie Krijger received approval to expand the Zealand Farms Inc. poultry operation, established in 2002, with a new facility that would house 95,000 broilers. Broilers are the poultry equivalent of beef cattle or hogs being raised and finished for slaughter.
The expansion would include two new barns and a new service building.
The NRCB announced early in February that the application had been approved, raising a variety of concerns among the Krijgers’ immediate neighbours. The concerns include potential impacts on water quality in the Chain Lakes drainage area, air quality, damage to roads from trucks serving the farm and reduction of property values.
After reviewing the concerns, the board determined that there were only two issues outstanding, NRCB lawyer Bill Kennedy said on Thursday.
The issues revolve around the farm’s proximity to the northernmost lake in the Chain Lakes and whether the approval contravenes a municipal bylaw stating that confined livestock operations should be kept at least 1.6 km away from Chain Lakes.
Neighbours and representatives from Ponoka County were invited to speak to those issues at the hearing.
The discussion was focused on whether NRCB’s approval is consistent with the county’s municipal development plan and, if not, whether the NRCB should exercise its authority to overrule the provisions of the plan.
The Agricultural Operation Practices Act is the legislation under which the NRCB receives its authority over confined livestock operations, said Kennedy.