Cumberland commissioners change course on chicken plant hearing
Posted January 20, 2015
Fayetteville, N.C. — After the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 against a public hearing regarding a $2.5 million incentive package for Sanderson Farms, the body reversed their decision Tuesday night amid loud opposition – also by a 4-3 vote.
Commissioners Charles Evans, Jeannette Council, Jimmy Keefe and Glenn Adams voted in favor. Commissioners Marshall Faircloth, Kenneth Edge and Larry Lancaster voted against.
"We are not accomplishing anything except distorting and destroying our reputation in this community," Edge said.
But the vote may have been for nothing. County Attorney Rick Moorefield said the county was no longer being considered.
Sanderson Farms, which has been courted by at least one location in Virginia, hasn't said publicly if it is still considering Cumberland County. The company was considering whether to build a $95 million plant in a county-owned industrial park in Cedar Creek, east of Interstate 95.
Tuesday's vote comes days after Evans changed his mind, saying he was now in favor of the meeting after hearing from his constituency.
Evans said he initially voted against the plan due to not having answers to outstanding questions about the incentives and because the package did not include a provision that allows convicted felons to apply for jobs the plant would bring.
Under the terms of the incentives plan, Sanderson Farms would create at least 975 jobs – 60 percent of which would go to Cumberland County residents – over three years and not contract with any poultry farms within a 10-mile radius of its facility or within a mile of the Cape Fear River. The jobs would have paid almost $11 an hour to start.
In exchange, the county would provide the company a 50 percent grantback of county property taxes to be paid over a nine-year period.
But for now, the proposed plant has brought plenty of debate.
"Now we are going to talk about chicken pollutants, polluting the water even more," Bryan Milner said.
The chicken processing plant could bring 1,000 jobs to the area, something Robert Lee would like to see.
"I would be willing to work for $8 an hour," he said.
The public hearing is expected to be held in early February.