GOSHEN — Expansion plans for Miller Poultry on the city’s south side got the green light from members of the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday afternoon.

During the meeting, board members approved a request by Miller Poultry and Abonmarche Consultants Inc. for a use variance to allow for the planned expansion of the existing property, a chicken hatchery.

According to Rossa Deegan, assistant planning and zoning administrator for the city, the facility, which has been operating at its 2704 S. Main St. location since the late 1940s, operates as a non-conforming use in a Business-1 District, where such uses are typically only allowed as conditional uses in designated industrial districts.

Deegan noted that the BZA granted Miller Poultry a use variance in 2007 to allow the expansion of the hatchery as a non-conforming use. The approved expansion was planned in two phases, and involved demolition of approximately 7,500 square feet of building and 12,000 square feet of new construction.

“In late 2011, approximately one-third of the planned construction was complete, so a variance was sought to continue with the planned construction,” Deegan said, noting that the variance was ultimately approved, but with a five year limit on construction before re-approval was needed. “To date, none of the planned construction approved in the 2011 variance has been completed as the company has focused on developing its larger facilities in New Paris and Orland. The variance expired in 2016 and the owner is now seeking its continuance.”

According to the request, Miller Poultry is seeking to expand the existing hatchery with up to 33,340 square feet of additional building space in approximately eight phases. The request also includes a request for additional parking and the potential for expansion into the nearby parcels at 2706 and 2708 S. Main St.

As described in the request, the eight-phase expansion plan is outlined as follows:

• Phases 1 through 6 will be additions to the primary structure of the existing hatchery totaling approximately 21,440 square feet

• Phase 7 will enclose an existing loading dock, with an approximate area of 2,300 square feet

• Phase 8 will be construction of a 9,600-square-foot steel accessory structure in the northeast corner of the lot

• Because phases 1 and 5 will eliminate 14 parking spaces, new pavement for parking is planned on the north end of the property that would add 20 new parking spaces

Despite the sequential ordering of the proposed phases, Deegan noted that no clear path for construction has been decided by Miller Poultry to date, adding that there is potential certain phases could be completed out of order, or be scrapped altogether.

“Staff has been informed that these phases may not take place in the 1 through 8 order that I’ve just described, and that they are also dependent on future business,” Deegan said of the phases. “It’s possible that one or more of these phases may never be completed, and it’s also possible that they will be completed out of order.”

Given the hatchery’s close proximity to nearby residences along South Main Street, planning staff proposed more conditions to regulate the property's development in terms of future land use, setbacks, landscaping, maximum building coverage, outside storage and lighting.

A sampling of those added requirements included: the use shall remain a poultry hatchery only; minimum building, parking and driving aisle setbacks of 45 feet must be included adjacent to all residential land use; total building coverage may not exceed 40 percent of total lot area; outside storage is prohibited; a lighting plan demonstrating all lighting is retained on site must be submitted; a partial landscaping plan for those areas adjacent to residential land use must be submitted; and the facility must connect to city water.

While generally content with most of the staff requirements mentioned Tuesday, JC Schrock, a representative of DJ Construction speaking on behalf of Miller Poultry, said he took particular issue with the landscaping and city water hook-up requirements.

In explaining his issue, Schrock noted that the facility currently operates with two working wells, and connection to city water is not needed. In addition, Schrock noted that connection to city water could potentially cost the company as much as $20,000 in hook-up fees, while the landscaping requirements could end up costing anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000, depending on how much and what type of landscaping is needed to fulfill the requirement.

In the end, board members decided to stick with the staff recommendations and approve the variance as presented, noting that they felt the added requirements were reasonable and necessary to bring the property into compliance with current zoning standards.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN

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