Future chicken plant, job creator causes controversy in Robeson - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Future chicken plant, job creator causes controversy in Robeson County

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - A future job creator, set to impact Robeson County massively, has caused controversy.

Local environmental groups have raised concerns about Sanderson Farms, a chicken processing plant set to bring 1,100 jobs to the area.

The debate over new jobs

Crews are scheduled to start breaking ground in 2016

However, residents from Robeson County are doing their research and wondering if the jobs are worth it.

On the side of Highway 20 in St Pauls sets an empty field full of promises.

The Sanderson Farms announcement will be the latest opportunity, since another nearby plant closed down in 2014.

Chris Stewart lives nearby. He said the closing of the plant affected a lot of folks.

“A lot of people lost their jobs when they did that, so maybe that will help them out.”

Stewart has spent most of his life in St Pauls.

He said he has seen companies come and go and isn't excited about Sanderson Farms.

“With that in the summertime, you're going to have the waste and the heat,” he said.

In addition, truck traffic, waste disposal, and water safety are just three of many concerns.

Christine Ellis from the Winyah Rivers Foundation said the group is concerned for the environment.

“We need to do things, we need to put actions in place to protect clean water and healthy communities,” she said.

Environmental activists are now asking Sanderson Farms to do a comprehensive assessment before building anything.

The company hasn't responded to WMBF News' repeated requests for a statement, but the local economic development director has.

He said Robeson County is aware of people's concerns but is confident in the company's practices.

Officials believe the jobs will also not only benefit Robeson County, but the counties surrounding it.

Folks like Stewart said the jobs could be great… but that doesn't mean you can overlook everything else.

“That's the only way to do it, is to bring it up before they put it in, because once they start building it, it's kind of null and void then, it's a moot point,” said Stewart.

A meeting has been scheduled at 6 p.m. in St. Pauls Tuesday to discuss concerns and issues.

It will be at the local VFW post and is open to the public.

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