Local News

Nash County commissioners to look at chicken plant

Posted February 7, 2011 12:39 p.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2011 5:45 p.m. EST

— The Nash County Board of Commissioners on Monday took another look at plans to bring a chicken processing plant to the county.

The board voted late last year to rezone an area west of N.C. Highway 97, near the Wilson County line, for the plant.

People opposed to the plant are suing the county, saying officials didn't follow the same rules they had in the past to make way for the Sanderson Farms plant.

Commissioners said they wanted to use Monday’s meeting to clarify their previous ordinance. The planning board said proposed changes to the zoning process would clarify any misunderstanding and help the county avoid any future lawsuits.

The commissioners voted in favor of classifying a slaughterhouse in a category that does not require a special permit, which means less regulation for Sanderson Farms.

Vice Chairman Billy Morgan, one of two members of the board to vote against the proposal, said he thinks the zoning changes were done specifically for the plant to come there. 

"It's set for them and designed for them, in a roundabout way," he said. 

More than a dozen people lined up in front of the board to voice their opinions on the plant.

Although the plant is expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area, some residents said those jobs aren't good enough. 

"What does that mean? That the only thing we are smart enough to do around here is cut up chicken?" one resident said. 

Plant faces more opposition

The Wilson City Council voted unanimously in November to allocate $1 million to fight the chicken processing plant because the city believes it would impair its water supply. Officials contend that waste from the plant would be piped into Wilson County's watershed and then sprayed on the ground.

The plant's waste disposal would "cause problems with odor, flies, respiratory issues and adverse impacts to the city's water quality, thus negatively impacting the quality of life of the citizens of the City of Wilson," a resolution passed by the Wilson City Council states.

The resolution states that Nash County never informed Wilson about the proposed plant and has denied the city's request to delay the project for an environmental impact study. It also states that Wilson will not supply water if it would end up being used in the plant.

Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Davis said previously that careful research has shown no potential environmental problems associated with chicken processing plants. He promised to hold more public hearings on the issue.