Coweta Commission to consider small farm proposal

The Coweta County Commission has scheduled a public hearing on Dec. 15 to consider a Neighborhood Agribusiness provision to the county zoning ordinance. The measure surfaced in July at the request of Fayetteville resident Scott Tyson who wanted to establish a small farm operation for sustainable agriculture, organic farming and agritourism on his 10-acre Sharpsburg property.
The Coweta County Planning Department is recommending approval of an ordinance amendment that would create Neighborhood Agribusiness zoning in the Rural Conservation zoning district.
The recommendation suggests four criteria that must be met to qualify for the conditional use. Those include property of at least five acres, the prohibition of large animal slaughter, a minimum 100-foot setback from any property line and a minimum 200-foot setback from any off-site dwelling and a completed conditional use application, the payment of all applicable fees and the submission of supporting documents.
Tyson in July 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.
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.
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 presentation, Tyson also cited the economic burden of having to purchase a larger tract of land than is required to generate a viable, small-scale agribusiness operation.
“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.

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