House of Raeford responds after Zoning board denies addition at controversial chicken plant

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 10:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2017 at 3:16 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The West Columbia Zoning Board of Appeals has denied a variance submitted by House or Raeford Farms after requesting additional space for its chicken plant.

Representatives from the plant wanted to build a new room because it needed more electricity. However, residents in West Columbia voiced their concerns about the addition and how it would impact the city.

"People come over here to West Columbia because it is quiet, serene, no traffic, you know your neighbors, you like your houses, you want to live here and raise your kids," West Columbia resident Cindy Moye said.

However, the controversial chicken plant House of Raeford Farms stands in the middle of West Columbia.

"It would be the smartest thing for House of Raeford to walk away from that property and say, 'As good steward of this property, we have got to the point where we can go no further,'" Moye said.

Officials with the plant say they needed to build a new control room to make that happen. However, because the plant is what the city calls a "nonconforming building," it'll need the city's permission first.

"It's an outdated building. It's an outdated abomination that sits on a beautiful, pristine river that we have the capability of, you know, that's our bread and butter. That river, for West Columbia, is what draws people here," said Moye.

Moye wants it gone, but Councilman Jimmy Brooks isn't so sure.

"I really am in the middle of it. I think they're a great business to have as far as the revenue they have and the employees they have," he said. "Then, they do a lot of great things in the community."

But, Brooks is troubled by the plant's appearance – and another less-visible factor.

"Every other month, in a city council meeting, you will hear the same thing - the smell, the smell, the smell," added Moye.

Some homeowners believe it's worse than ever before.

"It is boiling feathers, puke, whatever you want to call it," she explained. "It's stench."

Separate from the zoning board meeting Tuesday night, city council has been working to figure out a solution for that.

WIS is told that solution is in its early stages. Meanwhile, House of Raeford stresses that it's not trying to build anything more than a room about the size of a closet to house electrical panels.

Dave Witter, the plant's corporate sustainability and communications manager, released a statement Wednesday, saying:

House of Raeford Farms has long been an active member of the business community in West Columbia, contributing to its employment and tax base, operating a sound business while supporting area non-profits.

While disappointed in last night's decision by the board, we remain optimistic that a solution can be found to address what are basic needs for our operations.

In the meeting's opening minutes on Tuesday, the city explained that House of Raeford has made aesthetic improvements. However, the city said it still wants to see a long-term plan to beautify the plant.

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