Controversial Aiken chicken house to face one final hurdle

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, March 20, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Life is peaceful and generally quiet along Wire Road for Dennis Hooks.

"I moved out here in 1983, and we got a lot of people out here getting some age on them," Hooks said. "You know, elderly people."

But for about the past year and a half, a proposed chicken farm is stirring controversy between Hooks and many of his neighbors.

"My house is probably about 100 feet behind us, and right across the road here is where the chicken houses are going to be built," said Hooks, as he walked News 12 across his property.

News 12 first told you about the plans to build four large chicken houses across the street from the number of homes. After a heated public meeting by hosted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control at Aiken Middle School in October 2011, the farm was approved, but this Thursday morning, it'll face one final hurdle. The plan will go before the South Carolina Administrative Law Court in Columbia.

"This is what we're going to have to live with day and night, and he's talking about four chicken houses 500-foot long, and then you talking about big trucks coming in and out hauling this stuff," Hooks said.

But Hooks, who actually used to work in a chicken house, is most concerned about the smell and how it could affect neighbors on oxygen and even his two grandchildren who probably live closest to the proposed site.

"They miss a lot of school, and they've been in the hospital on several different occasions with asthma," he said.

Hooks says he and the other neighbors face long odds on Thursday, but even with defeat, they won't be done.

"If the chicken houses are built, I would think down the road that there are probably going to be some lawsuits filed. I will certainly file a lawsuit," Hooks told News 12.

David Ruth, owner of the land called High Cotton Farms, would not comment about the hearing or about possible civil lawsuits, either.

Hooks says the neighbors have notes from 13 different doctors saying their health will be affected, but Hooks says a DHEC doctor tells them the wind won't blow in their direction too often.

It'll go before Judge Ralph King Anderson III at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Edgar A. Brown building in the South Carolina Capitol Grounds.

News 12 will let you know what they decide.

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