Cumberland County residents fired up again over a proposed Chicken processing plant

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After giving a "no" vote to a plan by Sanderson Farms to build a chicken processing plant, commissioners gave their approval for a public hearing on an incentives package. (WTVD)

After giving a "no" vote to a plan by Sanderson Farms to build a chicken processing plant near Fayetteville, Cumberland County Commissioners Tuesday night gave their approval for a public hearing on an incentives package that was part of the deal.

Tuesday night, more than 100 opponents to the plan, mostly residents who live around the proposed site for the plant, packed the County Commissioner's room for a decision on whether to offer incentives to lure the company back to Fayetteville.

The discussion started with a message from Sanderson Farms to the county. It read: "They have moved on regarding their interest in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. They are no longer considering us for a site."

That was met with loud applause, but the joy quickly turned to anger, when the county commissioners then voted to hold a public hearing on the incentives anyway.

"Our county commissioners were voted into office and can be voted out," said Jewel Capps. "By golly, they should have stood up for us."

Sanderson Farms had wanted to build a $95 million chicken processing plant in a county-owned industrial park east of Fayetteville in the Cedar Creek Community. The company said the plant would bring 1,000 jobs to the county, but opponents argued the plant would foul the air and water.

Earlier this month, County Commissioner Charles Evans cast the deciding vote to not hold a public hearing on the incentives package. Tuesday night, he cast the deciding vote once again. However, this time, he was in favor of holding a public hearing.

Evans said he changed his mind after studying the issues and talking with company officials about his concerns. Evans said he felt holding a public hearing was the fair thing to do, but many residents felt double-crossed.

"If Sanderson Farms is not interested," said Ann Mitchell." Then why are we having a public hearing, a waste of tax payers' time and money."
Commissioners said they feel everyone in the county should at least have the chance to be heard. Some residents like Kevin Brooks think that's a good idea.

"I support the process. I support the reason why people want to have jobs. I support their understanding why they don't want the processing plant. I understand all the way around, but everybody needs to be included."

Commissioners have tentatively set Feb. 2 for a public forum at the Crown Coliseum.

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