Neighbors File Lawsuit Against County, Sanderson Farms

By: Carly Swain
By: Carly Swain

Private citizens are taking their arguments to court after the county voted to allow a chicken processing plant and hatchery to build in Nash County.

On Tuesday, September 25th, at 4:05 in the afternoon, two private citizens took their objections of a local chicken plant to the courthouse. Carson Barnes and Clay Strickland are listed as plaintiffs on a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against both Nash County and Sanderson Farms. Cecil and Bertine Williams are also listed as defendants in the case, who owned the property ultimately acquired by the corporation to build on.

On September 17th, the Nash County Commissioners took four hours to vote in favor of the chicken plant and hatchery coming to the county. The 5-2 vote came after more than a year of controversy within the county itself, displayed by numerous residents showing up at county meetings as well as silently protesting from their own front yards with signs opposing the plant.

Those against the plant said it could have a negative impact on the environment and only bring low paying jobs to the region. Supporters countered the argument stating it would bring necessary jobs to the region.

Over the phone on Wednesday morning, County Manager Bob Murphy told WITN the lawsuit was not a surprise.

"We received a letter Friday afternoon notifying us on the pending suit but it had no specifics in it," said Murphy. "It's only in the last hour or so (on Wednesday morning) that we actually knew what was involved."

In the motion, the defendant cites "concerns of secret purchase of real estate by Nash County." The motion states the purchase went through without a public notice or hearing, and in so, "deprived the Plaintiffs' and the public of their statutory and constitutional rights."

Murphy said the County's next step will be the review the merits of the case with the county attorney.

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