The Peach Bottom Township zoning hearing board Tuesday rejected a family's application to create a large hog farm on their property.

The board denied the Gemmill family's application to create a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, on their 120-acre farm in the 400 block of Gemmill Road.

The board based its decision on a township regulation that requires that CAFOs be placed on poor-quality farm ground.

The Gemmills planned to build the hog barn on land of higher quality than the board deemed appropriate.

David Gemmill declined to comment Tuesday night on the decision.

The board said it would release its written verdict Tuesday. The Gemmill family will then have 30 days to appeal the decision in York County court.

The board's decision came about 16 months after David Gemmill and his sons, Eric and Steven, filed an application with the township seeking permission to operate a CAFO on Bellview Family Farm.

The family wanted to build a piglet grow-out barn to house up to 4,400 hogs. They would raise the animals from 13 pounds until they reach market weight of 255 pounds, usually a six-month process.

The proposal divided the rural township, with single-family homeowners -- many from Susquehanna Trails -- opposing the CAFO and farmers supporting it.

Throughout the lengthy hearing, both sides presented testimony from experts.

The Gemmill family's representatives maintained CAFOs are a vital part of modern-day farming and are well regulated by the state and federal governments.


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Their opponents alleged CAFOs cause health problems for humans, create odor problems and contaminate groundwater, all of which, they argued, will devalue their properties.

However, the board cited none of those issues in its decision.

The factor it did cite, the quality of the land, was first mentioned in the hearing process during the winter when township zoning officer Michele Sodor asked a question about it.

As a result, township supervisors have discussed amending the law to allow CAFOs in locations that will have the least impact on residential areas, regardless of soil quality. They have not yet voted on that proposal.

Earlier this year, the Gemmills received a permit for the CAFO from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. However, DEP officials said the permit was contingent upon the township's approval.