AmericanFarm.com

Appeal heard about former pickle plant in Del. court

By SEAN CLOUGHERTY
Managing Editor

GEORGETOWN, Del. (Oct. 21, 2014) — One of two appeals to decisions advancing the shuttered Vlasic pickle plant toward a poultry processing facility was heard last week in the Superior Court of Delaware.
Last week’s hearing before Judge Richard Stokes focused on the November decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment to grant Allen Harim a special use exception allowing the poultry company to proceed with remodeling the buildings for processing chickens.
A group of area residents called Protecting Our Indian River filed the appeal arguing the board did not have jurisdiction in making the decision, did not consult relevant state and federal agencies to protect natural resources and did not provide and hold public hearings on the matter.
Allen Harim’s lawyer Richard Gibbs said the public did have opportunity to comment on the project and there is no legal requirement for the board to seek input from agencies other than the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
After hearing arguments on Oct. 13, Stokes has 90 days to issue his decision. He can uphold the Board of Adjustment’s decision, overturn it or modify it.
Protecting Our Indian River has a second appeal pending against the state’s Environmental Appeals Board for upholding the DNREC and Environmental Control decision to grant Allen Harim brownfield status on the site for pollution remediation and redevelopment.
Allen Harim announced in the spring of 2013 that it planned to buy the Vlasic plant and convert it to process chickens, spending $100 million and creating up to 700 jobs in the county.
The project drew support from Gov. Jack Markell while environmentalists and nearby residents raised concerns about toxins in the soil and ground water beyond the facility’s property lines.
Critics said the contamination studies done by state agencies and a private firm hired by Allen Harim were incomplete and inadequate.
Last month, the poultry company confirmed its purchase of the 470,000 square foot Millsboro facility.
The company said it anticipates the complex will be initially used as a warehouse and storage facility.
“This acquisition aligns with our strategic plan and supports our company’s vision, mission and values. It is our desire to be a good neighbor in all of the regions in which we operate, and we look forward to becoming part of the fabric of Millsboro.”