Rocky Mount, N.C. — Sanderson Farms has proposed building a chicken processing plant in Nash County that would bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.
The plant would be located west of the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport off of N.C. Highway 97.
Faye Daniel, a long-time resident whose property is just down the road from the proposed site, worries the plant would be a bad new neighbor.
“I am very concerned about the pollution, air and water,” Daniel said Monday.
“We just do not find the problems with the industry that the people have their concerns with,” Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Davis said.
The board recently voted 4 to 3 to rezone the property to allow for the plant.
Some argue the commissioners quietly pushed it through, but Davis said there are limits to what can be disclosed to the public when talking with a private company.
“If the citizens of that particular part of the county will be patient with us, we feel like we can put the majority of their concerns to rest,” Davis said.
“There is really little that can be done (about) the smell, the runoff, the arsenic in the chicken fed that gets in the water,” concerned neighbor Kathy Williamson said.
Williamson said she worries about the impact on the Tar River in her backyard and what that could mean for drinking water supplies downstream in Nash and Wilson counties.
“Once this plant gets here, it’s too late and it’s not worth our future. I know it's 1,100 jobs, but it’s 1,100 low-paying jobs,” she said.
Davis said careful research shows no potential environment problems, but promises more public hearings before anything is set.
Concerned citizens are planning a rally to protest the proposed plant this weekend.
County leaders expect to hear a final decision about whether the company plans to build the plant in Nash before the end of the year.