Coweta approves small scale farming

Thu, 12/31/2009 - 12:42pm
By: Ben Nelms

A proposal to amend the Coweta County Zoning Ordinance to allow for small neighborhood agribusiness operations was approved Dec. 15 by the County Commission. The approval came after a request by Scott and Nicole Tyson, who own approximately 10 acres in Sharpsburg and want to establish an agribusiness and agritourism operation centering on organically-grown foods.

County Planning Director Robert Tolleson in recommending the amendment said it would support new agricultural endeavors, help preserve the county’s rural character, allow residents to purchase fresh foods and lend to the growing trend of educational experiences through agritourism.

Tolleson recommended, and the commission agreed, that the subsequent issuance of conditional use permits would be on a case-by-case basis.

Prior to the amendment, the Coweta County zoning ordinance required that a farming operation could only be performed on a tract of at least 20 acres.

Commissioners’ approval came with the stipulations that the property must be at least 5 acres in size, that all agribusiness buildings must conform to a minimum setback of 100 feet from any property line and at least 200 feet from any off-site dwelling and that large animal slaughter be prohibited.

Nicole and Scott Tyson first surfaced the idea of operating a sustainable organic farming business in July. Scott in addressing commissioners at the time requested he 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.

Scott and Nicole last week at their home near Peachtree City said they were pleased with the commission’s decision. Scott said that, with the amendment approved, he will proceed with applying for a conditional use permit for his farming enterprise.
Tyson already grows organic foods in his backyard. The desire to have their family and others benefit from organically-grown foods is not a passing whim.

Tyson, whose young son was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, said in July that the disease had been linked to pesticides. That reality, he told commissioners, 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.

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