Kendall County moves closer to approving poultry processing plant
By Steve Lord email@example.com September 18, 2013 12:56PM
Farmland on Lisbon Center Road just east of Fennel Road in Newark is the site for a proposed chicken processing plant on Monday, April 22, 2013. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 20, 2013 7:31AM
YORKVILLE — The Kendall County Board paved the way this week for a five-acre poultry processing plant to locate in an unincorporated part of the county south of Newark.
Board members approved making it possible to build such a plant in the A-1 district, which is the basic agricultural zoning district in the county. But it will need a special use that the County Board ultimately must approve.
Adding the definitions will allow Al and Mary Maly, who live on a small 13-acre farm on Roods Road, just south of Townhouse Road, to build the poultry processing plant on property they farm a bit to the north, along Lisbon Center Road at Fennel Road, about a half-mile south of Newark.
The Malys now raise about 600 chickens and turkeys on their Roods Road property, but take them to a plant downstate, in Arthur, for processing.
They want to build their own processing plant on about five acres of the 120 acres they farm along Lisbon Center Road, to process about 3,000 poultry a day. They would have about 20 employees, they have said.
The amendment to the county’s zoning law passed this week defines what can be processed at the plant. The definition says the plant can process chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, squab (which are pigeons up to one month old), and small game birds, such as quail, pheasant and partridge. It also allows rabbits to be processed there.
In addition to the definitions, the board approved 14 conditions that must be met before a special use for the plant can be approved. One of the conditions limits the amount of processing that can be done to 21,000 units a week. A unit is one animal, except for turkeys and geese, which count as 4.5 units.
Another condition says no rendering can be done at the plant, which is the reclamation of what is left after processing. In fact, the conditions say that all waste, by-products and decomposable residue must be kept in a sealed container and picked up within 48 hours.
Board members on the Planning, Building and Zoning Committee suggested the changes as a way to address concerns about the site that were brought up at the county’s Plan Commission meeting.
Those concerns included things like traffic, noise, lighting, possible protests, landscaping, driveway construction, possible water contamination, appearance, signage and waste. Commissioners also wondered about allowing commercial sales at the site, which would have to be done by special approval.
The Malys have spent about a year doing soil samples, studying regulations and working with the United States Department of Agriculture. While processing plants do not necessarily have to be approved by the USDA, the Malys want theirs to be.
There is only one other USDA approved poultry processing plant in Illinois, and that’s about three hours away, near Arthur. Run by an Amish couple in the middle of Illinois’ Amish country, the plant has regular customers from Missouri, Ohio and Iowa, as well as from in the state. But the plant has been turning people away because it can only handle a certain number of customers.
There is a poultry processing plant near Chicago, but that only runs about half the time, and a plant in Clinton, Wisc., handles about 600 chickens a day, but is not USDA approved.
It’s even harder to find processing plants certified to process organic meat. The USDA requires organic-certified plants to keep organically raised animals separate from other livestock. Processing plants must process organic livestock at the beginning of the day, when the equipment is clean.
That’s one reason the Malys have not raised their poultry organically, even though they want to. They intend for their plant to be certified for organic processing.
County planning officials intend on having another public hearing on the Malys proposal before moving it to the County Board.