Guns, gardens on county agenda Tuesday
By Sarah Fay Campbell Monday, July 20, 2009
Requests that Coweta County create zoning classifications for shooting ranges, and organic farms on less than 20 acres, will be discussed Tuesday by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the chambers at Perry and East Washington streets in downtown Newnan.
The county's planning department has received a request from a company that wants to build a "premier" 15- to 20-lane indoor shooting range and exterior training facility in Coweta. CDM Investment Partners is asking that the county create a zoning category, with requirements, to allow for such uses.
In a separate request, Scott Tyson has requested that the county create a zoning category that would allow for a commercial farm that would incorporate sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, and agri-tourism on acreage less than 20 acres. Tyson has proposed a garden on Emory Phillips Road.
The garden would have organic fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised chickens and eggs, and "a variety of fish using aquaponics."
Once the farm is established, Tyson wants to have visitors for workshops and exhibits, as well as farm tours and stays, and hayrides. He would also like to have a self-pick operation and gift shop.
In a letter to the planning department, Tyson says that his son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer on his fourth birthday, two years ago. The cancer has been linked to pesticides, Tyson said.
The planning department is recommending some minimum qualifications for the zoning category, including a minimum size of five acres, a minimum building setback of 100 feet, and some exceptions to development standards such as paved drives and landscape requirements.
If the zoning categories are created, the applicants would then have to apply to have property rezoned to those categories.
By Sarah Fay Campbell
A request to allow small-scale commercial organic farms has received support from the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
The board voted 4-0 to have the planning department move forward with drawing up regulations for sustainable commercial farms on tracts less than 20 acres.
Scott Tyson, who currently lives in Fayette County, wants to create a sustainable, organic farm on 10 acres he owns on Emory Phillips Road. The county's current zoning regulations require a 20-acre minimum for any kind of commercial agricultural activity.
The planning department is recommending that the use be allowed as a conditional use under the rural conservation zoning district, Planning Director Robert Tolleson said at the commission's July 21 meeting. He is suggesting a five-acre minimum.
Commissioner Randolph Collins expressed some concerns over livestock, especially pigs.
Other than that, "it's a great idea, I totally support it," Collins said. "But I definitely want us to be prepared for the animal aspect. I can hear it now..."
"I understand. I've been hearing it for 23 years," Tolleson said.
When Tyson's son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, he researched the cancer and found that it has been linked to pesticides. "Ninety percent of the fruits and vegetables" sold at stores have pesticides on them, Tyson said. He wants to grow organic food for his family, and also sell it to others.
"We must be able to sell retail on the farm," Tyson said. "It also enables customers to see where their food is grown and see healthy animals," he said.
The commission voted 4-0 to have the planing department move forward with drawing up regulations. Commissioner Tim Lassetter was not in attendance.
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This is how you do it! A PRIVATE citizen as opposed to gov't. I completely support this. There are so many things we consume that do potential harm- pesticides, preservatives, genetically modified, etc. I hope that ideas like this can survive once Codex Alimentarius and legislation such as HR 875 pass.
Posted by Katie B. at 8:27 AM
Coweta gets request for sustainable organic farming
Thu, 07/30/2009 - 4:04pm
By: Ben Nelms
A proposal to add a zoning category to Coweta County’s Zoning and Development Ordinance allowing commercial farms to incorporate sustainable agriculture, organic gardening and agritourism on less than 20 acres got the go-ahead from commissioners last week. The Planning & Zoning Department will move forward with drafting the potential amendment as a conditional use in the Rural Conservation zoning district.
Fayetteville resident Scott Tyson made the request to be allowed to start a sustainable organic farm, citing the potential for his 10-acre Sharpsburg property, and that of others, to grow healthier food and raise healthier animals that will, in turn, provide on-farm direct sales, educational experiences, entertainment and hospitality services to the public.
“The customers can see where the food comes from,” Tyson said.
Tyson, whose young son was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, said the disease had been linked to pesticides. That reality, he said, had caused him to consider the negative health effects of food grown on conventional farms where pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are commonly used. Among other examples, Tyson cited information from the Toxics Information Project that farmers who frequently use pesticides have a six-fold increase in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He also cited the nutritional advantages of raising free-range chickens and eating eggs from pasture-raised chickens.
As a part of his presentation to commissioners on the advantages of sustainable agriculture, Tyson referenced the Coweta County vision statement that states, “Coweta County will foster a new frontier of rural character. This county will consistently sustain and improve the quality of life by continuously planning for careful growth with the participation of citizens, private industry and government.”
Tyson said that vision would assist small farming operations to succeed.
“Land prices are out of reach for the smaller farmer to buy the 20-acre minimum in a good, convenient, profitable location. Thus to continue a growing, sustainable and thriving local economy that is not dependent on other parts of the world for food, enabling smaller tracts of land to be considered commercial agriculture is vital,” Tyson said in a prepared statement.
Tyson also noted that generational farming is on the decline in the United States, resulting on the reliance by grocery chains to purchase food to be shipped from where it is cheapest and most abundant without regard for quality.
In his statements to commissioners, Planning Director Robert Tolleson noted the specifics of Tyson’s request to use a sustainable organic gardening program, the rotational pasturing of animals and the desire to attract both customers using a “you-pick” operation and visitors to learn about the agricultural practices through educational and recreational activities.
Tolleson referenced the expanding emphasis on agritourism in Georgia and other states. He also referenced the position of the American Planning Service that local governments enact zoning regulations to allow for such farming practices without posing an undue burden or costs on farmers.
Tolleson said his department recommended that commissioners consider a proposed amendment along with a recommendation of a minimum lot size of five acres, a minimum building setback of 100 feet and to potentially allow some exceptions to development standards unless issues are identified through the conditional use review that warrant such standards.
Commissioners agreed, voting unanimously to have the Planning Department “look into” an amendment that would include Sustainable Agricultural Activities as a conditional use in the Rural Conservation zoning district. Commissioners also said that, if eventually adopted, those requests by individuals would handled be on a case-by-case basis.