Some in Aiken Co. neighborhood fuming over proposed chicken farm

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, April 16, 2013

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- Home is paradise for Jim Bassett.

"It's beautiful. It's beautiful. Just quiet," he said.

The 72-year-old has a place to hike, space for a garden, a pool to swim in and a dream home to share with his wife, Janet.

"We came into Aiken driving in, and the wife, as we're driving in, she said this is it, and it was beautiful," Bassett said.

But soon, there might be a smell of chicken manure in the air. It's cause for concern for Jim and other neighbors off Webbs Pond Road in Aiken County, which is off Charleston Highway past Windsor.

"My wife has had respiratory problems from poultry, chickens or birds," Bassett said.

According to a Department of Health amd Environmental Control application, owner Jerry Kinsey wants to turn his nearby land into a chicken farm, complete with room for six houses that'll hold up to 240,000 birds at any given time.

Last week, DHEC held a public meeting, but neighbors are taking matters into their own hands.

"We're going to fight it," Bassett said. "If it takes five or 10 years, fine. We're going to fight."

"Everybody knows it's just awful. It's the nastiest thing you can smell besides a sewer. It's probably worse than sewer!" said Kenneth Mitchum, Jr., who lives nearby.

Mitchum is worried.

"I have COPD and asthma and 33 percent lung capacity. I'm probably going to have to move from here," he said.

He says he may never get to go outside again once it's built.

"My ex-father-in-law lived right next to one going toward Wagener, South Carolina, and man, it was unreal, and the flies were so bad!" Mitchum said.

Back down the road, Bassett is worried about horses too with so many stables and polo ponies around.

A local horse owner says airborne spores could damage the lungs of her horses, which is also the source of her livelihood. However, she says DHEC told her it won't take the health of animals into consideration in approving or denying the chicken farm.

News 12 tried to reach Kinsey via telephone but never heard back.

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