The Building Process

Getting Started

  • Evaluate the Site. Review background data on floodplains, soils and tax ditch rights-of-ways. The background information can assist with preliminary layout and knowing how many houses are appropriate for the site prior to field work.
  • Stay out of floodplain zones. Even if not a regulatory issue, most banks will not finance without costly flood insurance. Soils information can identify poorly drained areas. Higher building pads require more earthwork to elevate houses in wet areas.
  • §  Check on status of HIGHLY ERODIBLE LAND CONSERVATION AND WETLAND CONSERVATION determination for the site. If participating with the USDA get a copy of the existing certification or obtain a certified wetland determination for the site to satisfy the conservation provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985. Consult with Army Corps of Engineers’ to determine Clean Water Act jurisdiction for wetlands on the site.  If wetlands are cleared and filled you may not be eligible for federal funding and may be subject to penalties under Federal Law.
  • Contact Lenders to determine the feasibility of the project (if applicable). 
  • Select an Engineer or Design Professional to assist with layout and site design. Make sure plan conforms to County Setbacks and DPI Good Neighbor Policy.
    • In New Castle and Kent Counties:
      • 100 feet from property lines
      • 300 feet from any dwelling not on the same property
      • 25 feet from wetlands
    • In Sussex County:
      • 50 feet from property lines
      • 200 feet from any dwelling not on the same property
    • DPI’s Best Management Practices for Good Neighbor Relations:
      • 200 feet from the center of a public road
      • 100 feet from property lines
      • 400 feet from any dwelling not on the same property
  • Select your Integrator. Know their requirements and standard house dimensions.

Image courtesy of Bill Satterfield, DPI

Planning Your Operation

  • Acquire a Preliminary Animal Waste Management Plan (AWMP) or Nutrient Management Plan (NMP). Must address EPA’s nine minimum requirements (described in CAFO Fact Sheet). Become a Cooperator of the District to receive assistance on plan preparation.
  • Submit an NOI for CAFO Permit Coverage to the Delaware Department of Agriculture 180 days prior to starting operations. (Applies to operations with more than 37,500 chickens, or as designated by DNREC/DDA). Include in your submission:
    • NOI Form
    • Preliminary AWMP/NMP
    • Color Topographic Map. (You can print a topographic map through online sources such as
  •  Acquire an Ag Structure Plan for stormwater BMPs needed for construction and post-construction phases. A design professional can help to prepare the plan, which includes:
    • A signed owner certification, including certification that a responsible person (DNREC-certified Blue Card Holder) shall implement the plan fully through daily oversight of the construction.
    • Conditions for a Standard Plan (if applicable) include:
      • A Nutrient Management Plan
      • Runoff conveyed to ephemeral wetland forebay
      • Detention basin
      • Vegetated stabilization
      • Construction site stormwater BMPs
      • NPDES Notice of Intent (NOI) for projects greater than 1 acre, which must also include a plan fulfilling Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) requirements.
    • Best Management Practices (BMPs) include:
      • Swales between houses (minimum 60′ house spacing, flat bottom 8′ wide 4-6″ grass height)
      • Filter strips at perimeter (minimum 25′ wide, 4-6″ grass height)
      • Ephemeral wetland forebay (refer to sizing tables)
      • Detention basin (required for sites that clear forest; refer to tables for sizing)
  • Acquire a permit from DelDOT for the entrance to your farm. Entrance permits are required for ongoing agricultural operations. The DelDOT Development Coordination Manual 8.5.2 details the requirements for an agricultural entrance. The permit application form can be found here. Projects that meet the following criteria require a full commercial entrance:
    • Buildings/structures have been or will be erected/used for agricultural production operations and the total combined existing and proposed roof area is greater than or equal to 400,000 sf.
    • The existing entrance was not designed and approved for the combined traffic of the existing and proposed uses, which total 100 trips (daily traffic entering and exiting is 50 vehicles) or more during periods of peak production or activity.

Going to Construction

  • Submit an NOI for NPDES Construction Permit to DNREC. A $195 fee applies.
  • Acquire Building Permit from County
  • Complete Pre-Construction Meeting with Conservation District, Contractors and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Inspections must be conducted weekly and after every 1/2″ rainfall event. Keep inspection reports on site. Construction activities must be conducted by a contractor that is a DNREC-certified contractor (Blue Card Holder) and they need to be on the site daily.
  • Submit Post-Construction Verification document for Conservation District review and approval prior to the end of the project. Post Construction Verification documents are required to verify proper BMP construction. These must be submitted to the delegated agency prior to bird placement and termination of the NPDES Construction Permit.
  • Talk with your Insurance Agent about Construction and Loss of Income Insurance.

Starting Operations

  • Submit Notice of Termination for NPDES Construction Permit when construction is complete.
  • Maintain records in compliance with CAFO Permit. (Recordkeeping templates can be found here.)
  • Follow AWMP/NMP Implementation Schedule for BMPs Technical and cost-share assistance may be available to help with implementation.
  • Start the education process to be certified through Delaware’s Nutrient Management Program. You’ll likely either need to be certified as a Nutrient Generator (if you have a no-land operation) or a Private Nutrient Handler (if you apply nutrients to cropland).

Image courtesy of Bill Satterfield, DPI