Farmington Meat Processing decision delayed; proponents of each side mention lawsuits
Published 10:47 am Thursday, July 21, 2022
By Mike Barnhardt
The plight of the farmer came up again before county commissioners this month – still in regard to an upcoming decision on a rezoning request that would allow Farmington Meat Processing to stay at its present site on Nikki’s Way.
Commissioners made no comments, but delayed that rezoning decision at least until their meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Henry Walker, local lifetime farmer, said the county’s agribusiness rules need to be addressed because they haven’t been revised in 15 years. Since then, the last dairy farm in the county closed and tobacco farms are few.
He said an article about the meat processing facility – that sells North Carolina based agricultural products – upset him, because it wasn’t the intent of the agribusiness rules. He also said that if the county votes against the business, it could face a lawsuit.
“We need to go back and get a group of farmers (to help rewrite the ordinance),” he said. “There are mistakes in it. We need to re-do this. Cooperatives can sell products from other farmers.”
Walker also said that all county roads started as did Nikki’s Way, as a private drive with public access.
Brad Friesen, an attorney representing George Martines, also mentioned a lawsuit – but it was if the county votes to allow the facility to stay at its present site.
“If the Longs (Farmington Meat Processing owners) invest a bunch of money into developing that property further, and two years later the court of appeals reverses that decision, it will leave them in a jam,” Friesen said. “They have a good plan, they need a good location.”
He told the board they took an oath to uphold the law. “Sometimes that means you must make an upopular decision. This may be one of those things, where the popular decision is in conflict with the law.”
Martines said: “Approving this amendment will make this private road a public road, and have substantial impact on the value of our residential homes in this neighborhood.”
The Longs asked for the rezoning at the advice of county planners after a complaint about the business operating outside of zoning regulations was received.