Up & Coming Weekly

August 19, 2014

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 8 of 28

8 AUGUST 20-26, 2014 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM When I first learned that a large chicken processing plant might be locating on Cedar Creek Road, I thought, at first consideration, that it would be a big shot in the arm, espe- cially since the Cedar Creek Industrial Park has been vacant for a number of years. Being an advocate of economic development and pro-industry, 1,100 new jobs was enticing. But as I began learning more about the project - slaughtering and processing 250,000 live chickens a day and creating 1.25 MILLION gallons of waste water a day, I became more concerned. Then I learned that giant water wells would be required to supply the water for processing and many acres of open fields would be required to dispose of the waste water and I realized the long-term negative effects of this project will far outweigh the short-term positive ones. This project could bring miles of terrible odor, millions of gallons of contaminated drinking and river water, increased traffic on our roads, plummeting of property values and too low wages. The advocates of this project say it will be a state-of-the-art facility to help control the impacts of odor and waste. However, these types of processing plants are perceived as dirty and smelly. Whether or not it actually will produce an odor, any potential new home buyer in the area will have this concern as top of mind. Property values will plummet anywhere close to the plant and irrigation fields and development will cease beyond this project in this part of the county. Who would want to build a new home close to this facility? I estimate that this plant will impact the property values of about 500 homes within a 2 mile radius with values ranging from $150,000 to $1,000,000. It's not attractive to build or buy a home in an area with little opportunity for a return on investment. There are four schools within three to four miles of this site, Sunnyside Elementary School, Mac Williams Middle School, Cape Fear High School and Seabrook Elementary School. Also, according to environmental professionals reviewing this proposed project, the waste water will eventually end up in our Cape Fear River causing detrimental impact to fish, wildlife and water quality. Many of the residents living near the proposed facility site have private water wells for their drinking, bathing and wash water. What will be the long term effects on them of mil- lions of gallons of waste water seeping into the nearby ground, which eventually runs off miles away? The chickens have to be transported from the barns to the processing plant. This will cre- ate congestion from the approximate 60 large trucks bringing the chickens in and the final products out, not to mention the additional 1,000 cars transporting employees to and from the plant. Another concern I have not heard addressed is whether they will have a rendering plant at this facility or will they use the local one across the river. Additionally, the location of this processing plant would be less than two miles from the "Gateway to Fayetteville" I-95 interchange at Exit 49 where there are 12 restaurants, 14 motels, and five convenience stores/gas stations. This area provides an incredible economic boost to our community bringing in dollars from all over the country and providing countless jobs. Who wants to dine or overnight in an area that smells like rotten meat? Finally, yes, the project will create jobs, but not at a wage that would attract people to put down roots in our community. At $11.11 an hour, that is not enough to truly sustain a family of four or provide them an opportunity to buy a home and become a lifelong resident of our area. The jobs will be incredibly competitive and likely attract citizens from surround- ing counties as well. How does a job for a citizen of Robeson or Sampson County benefit a resident of Cumberland County? Twenty years ago, IBP was very interested in locating a large hog slaughter plant on River Road close to the existing Cargill soybean processing plant. The facility was going to provide over 1,000 jobs and use PWC water. The citizens of Eastover were very much opposed to the facility due to the traffic, odor and low wages. After much lobbying by the Eastover com- munity to the Cumberland County Economic Development Board, Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioners everyone decided it was not a good fit. The development of property in a residential/farming community for low-paying chicken processing jobs I see as an almost identical scenario, just a different location east of the river in Cumberland County. I think that this proposed plant would be the worst economic and aesthetic event that has ever happened to Cumberland County in my lifetime. We all want jobs and development, but we want jobs that pay a decent wage to our citizens and veterans, jobs that support the long-term growth of our community. Our area has seen significant growth in 20 years and I believe the path to our continued success is through the development of projects that bring higher paying jobs and provide safe, clean, and sustainable places for people to live and grow. This proposed project is absolutely not a fit. I have spoken with many residents of Cedar Creek, Judson, Vander and Beaver Dam and they do not support this project, nor do I. I encourage our County Commissioners and City Council members to please look at the long-term effects of locating this plant at the present proposed location. A View from the Other Side: Sanderson Farms by JOHNNIE EVANS There has been a lot said in recent weeks about a proposed chicken processing plant being built on the site of the vacant Cedar Creek Business Center. While everyone involved certainly has the best intentions, unfortunately, not everything being said is based on knowledge, but based more on fear. The premise of Sanderson Farms bringing a processing plant to our All America City can, on its surface, be a little scary. We get visions in our head of how a processing plant looks, and how it smells. It's ok to be afraid. That can help us seek out answers to important questions that impact the quality of life of each and every one of us in this community. But if our fears cripple us to the point that we won't even bother listening to the answers being given - because they don't fit the script we try to write in advance - we are doomed to failure. The goal of everyone involved in the Sanderson Farms project is not to mislead or misinform anyone. The fact is, at this stage in the process it's premature to enter into many of the discus- sions about this or any opportunity. The company, and the leadership of this community - those elected and appointed to look after the long-term interests of the community we all call home - are working hard to gather all the relevant facts that will ultimately be the determining factor in any decision making. There are answers to many of the questions that have been posed, however, and those answers are being given to our community leaders and even those most outspoken against the project. We're happy to provide anyone who requests it with the information packets they have all been provided. But at this point in this project, most of what is being said publicly is just conjecture, as Sanderson Farms has not yet committed to the project, nor made any requests for approval to elected officials. At this point, we know Sanderson Farms has expressed interest in locating a facility in the vacant, and appropriately zoned, Ceder Creek Business Park. If everything were accepted and approved, Sanderson Farms would likely build a facility here similar to the one it has in Kinston, NC. That's roughly 170,000 square feet of precast construc- tion on about 200 acres. The property would be capable of processing some 1.25 million chick- ens per week. The site would also have a live haul shed, a wastewater treatment facility, a truck shop, and parking area. Additionally there would be an administration and hatchery building of about 65,000 square feet. All of that amounts to over 1,000 jobs and some $113 million in investment. In Kinston, the average hourly wage is $11.71 an hour, plus the company pays 75 percent of an employee's benefits for themselves and their family. That averages out at about $2.50 an hour more.There are also over 100 employees making over $50,000 a year. While it's early, we would like to address some of the bigger objections we've heard so far with the facts we have available. Again, many of these questions are answered on our fact sheets. First and foremost to everyone is the smell. This is a state-of-the-art facility designed with with the health and safety of everyone, including its neighbors, in mind. Public officials and journal- ists from the area have visited the facility in Kinston, and all of them came back with the same impression - there is no discernable foul odor. The air and grounds around the Kinston facility are clean and free of feathers as well. Water pollution seems to be the next biggest objection. It's important that everyone under- stands that in no way, shape or form does Sanderson Farms just dump wastewater into the neighboring waterways. The process actually sends the wastewater through its own $12 million water treatment facility, which uses no chemicals in its process. It's very similar to how most municipal water treatment facilities work. The water is clear and odorless upon completion of treatment. After the water is treated it is used to spray hay fields adjacent to the facility. The water is rich in nutrients and serves just as a fertilizer would on any farm. The locations for the hay fields are purposefully chosen to provide the best possible natural ground filtration process. The amount of water that can be sprayed each day is state regulated. After it is sprayed, the purposefully chosen ground naturally filters the treated water and ultimately it returns to the aquifer. The entire process is heavily regulated and no water is directly discharged into the river. Sanderson Farms has scientific studies that show the water tables in and around thier facilities are actually better now than they were before they were there. The company has also met and in most cases exceeded all regulations at its facility in Kinston. Government regulations are in place for a reason, and while it's easy to be dismissive of those regulations as laughable, the fact is that they work. And they have for a long, long time. It's become popular to say that the wages aren't high enough and that we are better than these jobs; that we should aim higher in our goal to improve our economic climate here. We have a large population here that would welcome the opportunity to work hard and make a living, and they need jobs. In an environment where the unemployment rate is so high, it's hard to believe that we'd be willing to turn away the chance at over 1,000 jobs. Jobs that have the potential to put a large chunk of our population back to work. Some 40,000 Cumberland County households make less than $25,000 a year? And that 25,000 make less than $15,000 a year? We have a diverse workforce here, and it does us no good to turn away from those who need jobs most right now. There are very few opportunities to provide large numbers of jobs at once to a community. An opportunity to do that here, with a Fortune 500 company that has an excellent reputation for safety, community involvement and support, and environmental safeguards is something we should embrace with open arms. We want our community asking the important questions that will ultimately impact all of us. But we want people to be willing to hear the answers with an open mind. We are in the extremely early phases of this process. We have great confidence in our elected officials, and respect the work they have done to understand this immensely complex issue. They truly have the best interests of our community as a whole in mind as they explore the facts. It's important that we not let fear be the catalyst to decision making here. We have an opportu- nity to seek out facts in a productive public environment. As the process continues to develop, we hope that everyone with a vested interest will have their questions answered and that all minds will be open to the best interests of our community as a whole. If you would like fact sheets about the project to review, please contact our commu- nications department at info@faybiz.com or call 910-433-6766. Knowledge Is the Antidote for Fear by DOUG PETERS DOUG PETERS, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910.484.6200. JOHNNIE EVANS, Former Cumberland County Commissioner, Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910.484.6200.

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