Mountaire Farms of Delaware can proceed with plans to expand its wastewater spray-irrigation and sludge application operation on 352 acres near its processing plant off Route 24 near Millsboro.
At its Feb. 18 meeting, Sussex County Council unanimously approved a conditional-use application filed by the company to add the acreage to its existing 920 acres used for wastewater disposal. The parcel, on both sides of Mount Joy and Townsend roads, is near 13 other fields Mountaire uses.
Under the Mountaire plan, wastewater will be pumped to the new location via underground pipes from a yet-to-be-built $50 million wastewater treatment plant. Sludge that is currently hauled away would be applied to the new fields.
Under a 2017 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control permit, the plant is permitted to dispose of 2.6 million gallons of wastewater a day.
During testimony, Mountaire officials said the company has no plans to expand production with the addition of the acreage.
Council agreed with the conditions placed on the application by the planning and zoning commission. Those conditions include monthly environmental reports to DNREC, groundwater monitoring and no ponding or runoff from the fields.
The company can only dispose of treated waste from the Millsboro plant on the site, and the conditional use is valid only when DNREC permits have been issued.
Before submission of a final site plan, Mountaire must supply all current permits and show that all necessary approvals and permits have been received from DNREC to apply sludge and spray wastewater on the property.
Failure to abide by any of the conditions will nullify the application.
Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson, who proffered the conditions, said the increased acreage will allow for better load and nutrient management.
During council's Nov. 5 public hearing, residents asked council to delay a vote until pending legal cases against Mountaire were resolved. They also asked for health and environmental assessments, and private well testing to establish a baseline for groundwater monitoring. Council did not adopt any of the suggestions proposed by residents.
The final site plan will be subject to review and approval by the planning and zoning commission.