A group of neighbors concerned about an egg farm being built on Sage Road near the Swan Lake Resort voiced their concerns and outrage during a gathering on Monday. 

Dennis and Becky Stutzman live at 5300 Sage Road on 52 acres.  They are currently constructing a 540-foot by 50-foot chicken barn to house 20,000 laying hens.  Their building permit was issued on March 25, 2024.

At the meeting, neighbors expressed concerns about the smell, noise, air pollution, soil and water contamination and reduced property values.  There are also concerned of additional truck traffic on the county roadway and can’t understand why they were not notified of the project and given a chance to ask questions and voice their concerns.      

Stutzman told the 50 some people gathered at the Chophouse that he’s visited a couple of similar operations, and they haven’t smelled.  He said if done correctly, the only time there will be an order is when they clean the chicken barn out.  That happens after the chickens are sent to the market after 16 months on the farm. Stutzman said the smell from cleaning out the chicken barn will last 1 to 2 weeks.  He also said there are ammonia meters inside the barn, and he must routinely monitor the level.  If the ammonia smell raises too high there are odor control products he can put on to reduce the smell.   

Mr. Stutzman explained that the chickens are pasture raised and will be able to leave the barn and wander the 50-acres of grassland and forested area. When the sun begins to set, they will come back to the bar and roost. At that time they will be locked in the barn until the next morning.

The property and barn are owned by Stutzman, but the chickens are owned by Natural Family Farms in Middlebury who will also provide their feed.  That means a truck will deliver feed weekly and a semi will pick up the eggs once a week (half a semi) or every other week (a full semi) but that hasn’t been determined yet. 

The neighbors who have homes in the surrounding area feel like they didn’t have a voice in the decision.  Neighbors were not notified of the project because the egg farm is located in an A-1 zoning district, the number of chickens falls below the CFO or CFAO standard of 30,000 which would require a 1,320 setback from a residence or a variance, and all required setbacks were met for the construction project.

The neighbor’s homes are also zoned A-1 but they feel they live in a rural neighborhood and don’t believe an “egg factory” should be allowed.

A petition opposing the project was passed during Monday’s meeting.  Those who could not attend and live within a mile of the chicken farm are invited to sign the petition.  Jamie Schrameyer is willing to meet folks interested in adding their names and addressed to the petition. You can email her at schrameyerfamily@gmail.com