2014-02-27 / Front Page

Ayr Discusses Animal Farms

Supervisors agree to address a property complaint
By Jean Snyder

STAFF WRITER

The Ayr Township supervisors conducted a regular monthly meeting Monday evening and discussed routine township business that included concentrated animal farming operations (CAFOs), salt used to treat winter road conditions, a complaint regarding township property and septic system pumping.

The supervisors approved an amended plan for the Ott Swine Farm on Back Run Road. The operation is designated as a concentrated animal operation or CAO rather than a CAFO. CAOs have fewer animals than CAFOs.

The supervisors noted that they have received questions about the proposed Bivouac Sow Farm planned for the township on Great Cove Road between Mc- Connellsburg and Big Cove Tannery. It was noted that the supervisors have no control to approve or disapprove the farms. Township solicitor Stanley J. Kerlin said although many townships, including Ayr, had, years ago, adopted ordinances disallowing the farms, in 2005, the state passed a law saying that local governments could not regulate or disallow the operations. The Pennsylvania General Assembly addressed this issue through the enactment of legislation commonly referred to as the Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment Act (ACRE), and it was designed to protect against unlawful municipal ordinances. ACRE then rendered local ordinances prohibiting CAFOs null and void.

In other business, the supervisors discussed salt usage for roadways during this winter that has seen a large number of storms with snow and icing.

According to their contract with COSTARS (Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program), the township had reserved 100 tons of salt for the 2013-14 season. It was noted that they have purchased 121.20 tons (within the allowable overage on the contract). Nine tons were sold to the borough of McConnellsburg and 25 tons to Bethel Township. Ayr then used the remaining amount and could, if necessary, purchase an additional 18.71 tons.

The township supervisors discussed a complaint from a property owner regarding a Lincoln Way East property just east of the borough of McConnellsburg. The complaint is that the property is filled with junk and is generally unkempt and vacant. The supervisors agreed to speak with the property owner to ask that it be cleaned up.

The supervisors also were given a list of septic systems that were required to be pumped in 2013, but were not. The supervisors agreed to speak to the owners. Township secretary Denise Grissinger reported that 260 notices to pump in 2014 will be sent to property owners in the township’s Central District on March 1.

Also in other business, the supervisors agreed to inform residents about the Center for Community Action’s USDA Housing Preservation Funding. The program asks local municipalities, authorities and other community organizations to help identify problem properties or families that need assistance in becoming compliant with sewer and water enforcement issues.

To qualify, homeowners must have lived in their home for at least one year and cannot be valued at more than 95 percent of median purchase price for their area. In Fulton County the current value limit is $146,000. The homeowner must be low or very low income, according to HUD guidelines. Very low income would be defined as a family of four with income at or below $28,450, while low income would be defined as a family of four at or below $45,500. Sewer and water systems are a high priority for the funds. The funding also requires a 50 percent match by the homeowner, which can be cash or in-kind (such as volunteer labor or donations).

The Ayr Township supervisors meet monthly at 7 p.m. on the last Monday of each month. The meetings are held in the township building.

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