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Gilchrist County approves continuance for commercial bird farm

The Gilchrist County Commission approved a 1-year continuance of the Special Use Permit application 2018-01 to allow Tom Lucas and Lisa Moore to continue operating their commercial bird farm in North Gilchrist County to allow the applicants to work out details to keep their business operating. The Commission took this action during their April 2 board meeting after a continuance of a public hearing from March 8, 2018.
County attorney David M. Lang, Jr. explained to the five board members that the applicant has met and cooperated with Gilchrist County in order to reach a decision involving this Special Use Permit application. Lang explained that the applicant began his operation on the 10-acre parcel in January 2009. If the applicant had been in operation in 2007, then the Gilchrist Land Development Regulations would allow this use where the commercial operation is currently located.
Commission Chairman D Ray Harrison Jr. asked the attorney if the board denied the SUP application, what would happen to the commercial operation. Lang explained that if this operation is found to be in violation of a Gilchrist County ordinance and doesn’t comply, the county could require them to cease their business operation.
A resident that lives near the property in the north Gilchrist County unrecorded subdivision told the Commission that she has no problems with the birds or the people, she just wants to make sure that the business does not have an adverse affect on her property value if she decides to sell her land. Diane Stossel asked the Commission that if they approve the SUP application, she would like to make sure that the Commission places a limit on how many birds can be kept at this location. She would also like to make sure that the bird cages aren’t moved any closer to her property. “When the birds are loud, we can go inside our house where we can’t hear the birds,” she explained. The Commission asked the applicant how many birds were kept on the property at the present time. Tom Lucas explained that there were approximately 1400 birds on the property at this time. Commissioner Thomas told Ms. Stossel that the Commission was considering placing a maximum count for the number of birds that can be allowed to be housed on the property.
Tom Lucas explained to the Commission that he came to Gilchrist County seeking help to quiet down a group of neighbor kids that drive loud trucks with no mufflers around their property harassing them and causing problems for them and their birds. Between the loud trucks and the continual firing of high-powered rifles, this is having a devastating impact on our lives and it is killing our birds, Lucas explained.
During a lengthy discussion Commissioner Gray told the board that Tom Lucas has done everything that he can to make this issue right and Gray didn’t want to see the business forced to close. Gray made a motion to have Gilchrist County extend the SUP 2018- 01 application period for 1 year to allow the applicant time to prepare a site plan for the future to work toward being in compliance with the Gilchrist county regulations. This will be continued until April 1, 2019 to be considered as a time certain agenda at 4:15 p.m. Commissioner Thomas agreed as he gave a second to the motion. Chairman Harrison called for a vote as the board approved the motion by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Poitevint voted No on the motion and explained that the applicant needed a decision today in order to be able to finalize other plans involving their business.
Tom Lucas told the Commission that he wasn’t sure that they could continue to operate under the current strain that they are dealing with now. He pointed out that the gunshots and the loud noises are sometimes more than we can deal with, but we will continue to see if the conditions improve, Lucas explained.

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