On Your Side: Chicken Controversy

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News 12 at 6, September, 2007

TRENTON, SC -- South Carolina DHEC may have violated its own rules in issuing a permit for a new chicken broiler facility.

But despite this information, the department issued the permit, and nearby homeowners are outraged.

The facility is slated to be built near some homes in Trenton, SC.

It is supposed to be at least 1000 feet away from the closest house, but DHEC's own records say it's not.

The Lake Trenton Homeowner's Association is filled with people living near Courtney Road in Trenton. Many have been here for a while, but many now wish they could just move away.

"We don't want the smell and the odors," said Doris West.

A big concern for these folks is not only the odor, but also the air-borne bacteria.

That bacterium could soon be coming from a new chicken broiler facility that is scheduled to be built inside woods near their homes, which is something the homeowners don't want to see happen.

"Where should it go? I don't care, but I don't want it here," one homeowner said.

A man by the name of Rodney Cato filed for a permit to build the facility back in 2004. He was approved not too long after.

But the homeowners say something stinks about his permit. And they called 12 On Your Side to investigate.

The one thing that stuck out from our investigation was the fact that DHEC rules say nearby homes have to be at least 1000 feet from the site of the proposed facility.

12 On Your Side went to Columbia to check the DHEC records in person. It turns out there is a house closer than 1000 feet. It's been there since 2002 well before this application was filed.

Documents in DHEC's own file say that Judith John’s property is closer than 1000 feet. There's even a note saying a signed waiver is needed from Ms. John’s. That's something her family say she never signed.

DHEC officials would not comment on this directly, only saying that at the time when the application was submitted, there were no homes within 1000 feet.

Judith John's family says the home on her property was there well before that application was put in. The mention of the waiver in the DHEC file appears to support that too.

The Homeowner's Association is working through the appeals process and the courts to try and get the permit pulled. Because they say this chicken facility doesn't belong near their homes and they'll keep fighting till they can't fight anymore.

"This is not a fly by-night issue for us. It's something we've looked at over the long-term," said Doris West.

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