Meat processing facility discussed

Published 5:01 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

During its monthly meeting, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to discuss new business, including a public hearing for a meat processing facility.

The public hearing was for a special use permit for Beverly and Qadir Abdus-Sabur to construct and operate a meat processing facility on Tax Map Parcel 74-A-26B, on Darlington Heights Road, in Cullen.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Jan. 18 and no one spoke their concerns. The Commission unanimously voted to send it to the Board of Supervisors with 18 conditions that address the site plan, environmental impact, transportation, lighting, waste and appearance.

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Sekou Abdus-Sabur, son of Beverly and Qadir, spoke about how the meat processing plant would run and how it would affect the area. The goal of this facility is to provide a service to local farmers as there are only some custom processing places that are more for private use. This will be a USDA inspected facility that can provide fresh meat for local stores and restaurants while giving farmers a cheaper and easier option.

“Our goal, our mission is to provide a service for the local farmers and the consumers in our county,” said Abdus-Sabur. “Right now, farmers have to take their livestock elsewhere to a stockyard, to a sale barn, other owners to sell their meat.”

The plant would only process beef, lamb and goats. The facility would be completely enclosed to take care of smell and noise. Farmers would bring in the animals by appointment only to properly manage truck traffic on the road. Being a USDA facility, a USDA inspector would have to be present to make sure each step is done properly.

There are plans to properly dispose of waste that the facility will create. There will be a standard septic system for the regular household like waste. There will also be a separate underground tank to hold the liquid waste that the facility already has connections for a local septic company to pump it and a Lynchburg wastewater treatment plant that will receive it. Solid waste will be disposed of every evening in a double-chamber incinerator. This will burn the waste while also eliminating the smell and smoke.

“What comes out of the smokestack beyond that is just water vapor,” said Abdus-Sabur. “So the smell people may think may come out is not the case for what we plan to do.”

There will be four holding pins that will be occasionally used. The routine will be to immediately take care of the animals as soon as they arrive and enter the facility. These pins will be for an overnight stay for farmers who need to drop off an animal the evening before or for ones the inspector finds something wrong with and it can’t be immediately taken care of.

During public comments time, many citizens voiced their opinions and concerns. Those opposed brought up the poor advertisement of the Jan. 18 public hearing and also their concern for the drop in property value. There were also concerns for noise, smell and location as it will be near the road. The main issue concerning the facility was the location as is it a residential and agricultural area and not commercial.

Some voiced their support as they are farmers who know the benefits of having a facility here. Others supported the jobs it will create and the benefit of having fresh meat available as meat shortages have complicated grocery shopping.

After the comments, Abdus-Sabur reassured everyone that his family is from Prince Edward County and want what is best for the area. He looked into buying commercial property but it would not have given him the profit needed to run the facility and his family owns the land on Darlington Heights Road.

“We happen to own a piece of land in Darlington Heights that is an extension of our farm we just to build a facility on our farm,” said Abdus-Sabur. “I can promise you here tonight that this will not be an eyesore to the community.”

The Board moved to table the conversation for 30 days or until the next meeting for them to consider the public comments and for Abdus-Sabur to make updates or changes he may need.

Other business:

• Josh Roller from Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates, PLLC gave an audit presentation from the fiscal year of 2021. Several material misstatements were found as a result of suit procedures corrected by management for end-of-the-year adjustments. The report noted that the overall number of journal entries required was down significantly from last year and the plan is to address those moving forward. The only issue of noncompliance found was the annual school report not being filed timely, but a change in software will prevent this in future years.

• Dr. Maria Almond, Piedmont Health District Director gave an update. The area is now on the downslope of Omnicron and they are getting ready for the six-month old through 4-year-old Pfizer vaccine. Cases and hospital numbers are on the decline. Almond also stated “many national epidemiological organizations have stopped universal contact tracing, including VDH, meaning the health department is no longer calling every positive case and their known contacts. However, individuals who have a positive test should still contact those with whom they have been in close contact, and if not up-to-date with vaccines, those persons should quarantine. The health department is also still contact tracing for outbreaks.” 

• Melody Foster, executive director of Commonwealth Regional Council gave an update on grant funds received in the past year. The Board voted to reinvest half of the funds back into the Commonwealth Regional Council with the funds totaling $4,953.46 for Prince Edward County.

• The sheriff’s office needs new vehicles to replace two that were wrecked in the past year and two that have high mileage. The total will be $275,463. The Board approved purchasing the vehicles. The Board will revisit budgeting for this purchase.

• There is a Citizen Volunteer vacancy for the Piedmont Regional Jail Authority Board. The Board approved to have Supervisor David Emert fill the position.

• The Board voted to replace the Courthouse chiller as well as the Cannery boiler. The Board voted to use $25,000 from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Infrastructure Grant to be put toward the new boiler.

• The Board voted to authorize the County Administrator to sign a contract with Pandak & Taves for legal services.

• The Properties Committee gave an update on current discussions. The recycling bin in front of Tractor Supply will be removed on Feb. 22. The Courthouse Lawn renovation project will be advertised this spring. The County Administrator will proceed with transitioning county street signs to have the county seal on them. They are identifying new sites for a new animal shelter. Remodel the loading dock space and correct building drainage concerns for Yak Attack.

• Trey Pyle gave an Emergency Management update. He echoed the slow decline of COVID-19 cases. Longwood University is providing free PCR testing to take. People can get at-home tests from the post office and participating pharmacies have the N-95 masks. Emergency room delays have improved.

• Terry Atkins Wilson Esq. gave an update on outstanding legal issues to the Board. There is a claim from a school bus accident on Nov. 11.