Sanderson looks at Eastern N.C. again

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Sanderson Farms is back in the news this week as company officials consider a site for a new poultry processing plant in Cumberland County. As was the case when the chicken giant proposed a similar plant in Nash County a couple of years ago, the reception to the idea has not been all positive.

About 350 people who oppose the plant met over the weekend at a church near the proposed site. The opponents sounded themes that should be familiar to anyone who followed the battle in Nash County – concerns about the impact on surrounding property values, drinking water quality, traffic and air pollution, among others.

Cumberland County commissioners, Fayeteville Mayor Nat Robertson and the Fayetteville Regional Chamber of Commerce all passed up an invitation to attend the meeting.

That doesn’t bode well for a positive exchange of ideas and concerns about the proposal.

If Nash County officials took nothing else away from the failed efforts here to attract Sanderson, they should have learned that open communication would be greatly appreciated by their constituents.

Local opponents to Sanderson’s proposal complained that many of the important decisions related to the project were made with little input from residents near the proposed site.

The Cumberland County proposal will be interesting to watch. Eastern North Carolina desperately needs jobs and investment. The Sanderson plant would hire 1,100 people and pay about $1 million a year in property taxes.

But as Nash County learned, residents cling fiercely to their quality of life. We’ll be curious to see whether jobs and money can sway our neighbors to the south.