Nash Co. Officials To Meet With Environmental Expert Before Final Incentives Decision For Chicken Plant

NASHVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Some Nash County residents are still worried about a proposed chicken processing plant that would employee 1,100 workers.

The county commission agreed Tuesday to meet with a University of North Carolina expert before making a final decision on incentives for the plant. Epidemiology professor Steve Wing has researched occupational and environmental impacts of industrial animal production.

The incentive package would give Sanderson Farms land valued at $1.2 million and annual cash payments worth nearly 40 percent of the property taxes paid by the company on all buildings, improvements and equipment each year for 15 years.

The company will invest $91 million and create 1,100 jobs within two years.

The city of Wilson and concerned landowners sued Nash County to try to block the plant, but a court rejected the challenge.

Despite opposition, Sanderson Farms says it will build new facilities in Nash County.

Sanderson made the announcement this morning, saying their new poultry processing plant and hatchery will provide 1,100 new jobs.

Area residents and the city of Wilson sued Nash County several years ago over fears the plant would cause environmental damage. Last week the state Court of Appeals upheld a judge's ruling that Wilson had no standing to challenge Nash County's rezoning of the site.

The Nash County Landowners Association says the project was already a done deal made in the backrooms before the public knew about it.

"The Nash County Landowners Association will continue to oppose any effort by this split Board of Commissioners to locate a slaughterhouse in our front yard. The environmental costs are just too high. The voters have clearly spoken by electing slaughterhouse opponents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. The current majority is trying to hurry and push this through before the new board is seated later this year," said a news release from the association.

Sanderson says the poultry processing plant will be built on 140 acres near the interchange of Highway 97 and I-95. The hatchery will be located near the intersections of Highways 97 and 58. Total investment will be $91.4 million.

The processing plant and hatchery operation is expected to employ workers from the Nash, Wilson and Edgecombe County area.

Sanderson already has similar facilities in Kinston.