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Poultry plant proposal near Fayetteville sparks debate

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Residents along Cedar Creek Road near the vacant Cedar Creek Business Center have posted signs opposing the proposed chicken plant. Residents along Cedar Creek Road near the vacant Cedar Creek Business Center have posted signs opposing the proposed chicken plant.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

Debate about a possible chicken processing plant near Fayetteville is heating up.

Nearly 400 people attended a meeting Thursday night expressing their concerns about the plant that would go in the cedar creek business center southeast of Fayetteville. The center has been vacant since Cumberland County built it more than seven years ago. Now Sanderson Farms is considering a spot in the back along the Cape Fear River for a 170,000 square foot chicken processing plant.

"This community is going to fight it," commented Maurice Suggs who lives just down Cedar Creek Road from the business center. He has lived there all of his 71 years, and like many of his neighbors he has put out signs showing his opposition. He is worried about the plant's water wells affecting his well water supply, and other neighbors worry about contamination.

"Our community does not want a chicken slaughter house put in our backyard to contaminate all the water - ground water, the river," explained Ronald Johnson whose family has owned land in the area since before the Great Depression.

Nearby residents also say they are worried about the smell, the extra truck traffic and chicken feathers flying everywhere, but a Fayetteville Area Chamber of Commerce spokesman said it may not be as bad as feared. He had heard good things about how clean Sanderson Farms operates in plants and how the disposed water does not smell when it is sprayed on fields outside the plant.

"We don't want them to jump to conclusions based on past places that they've seen or anything like that,” said Brandon Plotnick. “We want them to understand factually what would be coming."

While the Chamber is not officially supporting the Sanderson plant, Plotnick said the positive economic effect sounds good. The estimated financial investment for the project is $113 million. 972 hourly positions would be created with an average hourly pay rate at $11.71 ($24,338/year). 109 salaried jobs would be created. Approximately 100 contracts would go to chicken farmers in counties between Fayetteville and another Sanderson Farms plant in Kinston.

"That's positive. We want to see opportunities for growth and diversification here," Plotnick said.

Sanderson Farms is expected to make a decision about whether or not to build in Cumberland County this fall.

Two years ago, local opposition prompted Sanderson, the third-largest chicken processor in the nation, to drop plans for such a plant in Nash County.


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