Cumberland commissioners again reject chicken plant plans
Posted January 5, 2015
Updated January 15, 2015
Fayetteville, N.C. — For the second time in four months, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has rejected plans for a chicken processing plant that would have brought about 1,000 jobs to the area.
Sanderson Farms has been looking at building a $95 million plant in the Cedar Creek Business Center, a county-owned 480-acre industrial park east of Interstate 95. In addition to the jobs at the plant, the company would contract with about 80 chicken farms in a five-county area to supply the plant.
Commissioners abandoned their recruitment of the company in September when they couldn't agree on offering incentives to Sanderson Farms, but the November election of two new members to the Board of Commissioners sparked some renewed interest in the project.
The board was considering a $2.5 million incentive package for Sanderson that would have required the company not to not contract with any chicken farms within a 10-mile radius of the plant or any farms within a mile of the Cape Fear River in Cumberland County.
But the commissioners then voted 4-3 against a necessary public hearing on the deal, essentially killing it. The two new commissioners split on the issue, with Commissioner Larry Lancaster opposing it and Commissioner Glenn Adams supporting it.
"At this point, I was moving forward to having a public hearing to hear on the incentives, to be able to determine whether I believe it was in the best interest of this community to bring Sanderson Farms here," Adams said.
Residents who live near the Cedar Creek Business Center have been vocal against building the plant, citing concerns about the smell, noise, pollution and potential water contamination that might be associated with it.
"It's just wonderful," resident Della Mol said of the board vote. "That is the most wonderful news that I have had."
Commissioner Jimmy Keefe said, however, that it's difficult to pass up 1,000 jobs, most of which would have been filled by Cumberland County residents.
"You got 1,000 jobs coming in, and in this time of the holidays, when people have to rely on others for charity, this would have given them the opportunity," Keefe said. "People that are maybe having to hold down two jobs, maybe they could work with one job."
Sanderson, which has been courted by at least one location in Virginia, wanted Cumberland County to at least give the company a fair hearing so Sanderson could decide which location is best for the new plant, spokesman Bob Billingsley said.
"This vote today doesn't give us the opportunity for us to make our decision," Billingsley said. "This was the next step in the process for them to make it available, and then, as a company, we were going to have to decide is Fayetteville where we want to do business, and it doesn't get us to that point."