Local News

Proposed Cumberland chicken plant worries nearby residents

Posted August 7, 2014 4:31 p.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2014 6:16 p.m. EDT

— Opposition is mounting to the prospect of a chicken processing plant in Cumberland County.

Sanderson Farms is looking at building a plant in Cedar Creek Business Center, a county-owned, 480-acre industrial park off Cedar Creek Road east of Interstate 95. Proponents note that the plant would bring 1,000 jobs to the area.

"If it's going to create jobs and give people work, that's a plus," said Adam Schloendorn, who lives about a half-mile from the proposed plant site.

Other nearby residents see mainly the minuses, however. They gathered Thursday night at Judson Baptist Church, at 505 Judson Church Road.

Hunter Evans, who has a farm, said he is concerned about the millions of gallons of water a day the plant will need to operate.

"That same amount is sprayed into fields adjacent or down the road or in the vicinity or proximity of the plant," Evans said.

He also worries about the 500 chicken houses needed to supply the plant. Sanderson plans to contract with 80 chicken farms in a five-county area.

"It'll be a lot of waste that's going to be going into the agricultural fields," he said. "It's going to provide runoff into not only the Cape Fear River basin but into the Neuse River basin."

Chris Bostock, a local businessman and former chairman of the Cumberland Economic Development Alliance, said the chicken houses would be closer to Sanderson's feed mill in Kinston.

"It's unlikely that any of those chicken houses would be in Cumberland County," Bostock said.

The chicken plant is about local jobs, he said, which is a good thing.

"Our economy is driven by the military. That's a very good thing, but we need to diversify our economy, and this would be a critical step to that," Bostock said.

Two years ago, intense opposition from residents prompted Sanderson to drop plans for a processing plant in Nash County.

Mississippi-based Sanderson is the third-largest chicken processor in the U.S. Company officials said a decision on whether to build in Cumberland County likely won't come before October.