05/13/04 — "not interested" in Bowdens

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"not interested" in Bowdens

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 13, 2004 2:58 PM

WARSAW -- A Smithfield Foods official says the company is not going to build a rendering plant in the Bowdens community.

Company Vice President Doug Anderson had visited the old Georgia-Pacific plant at the Bowdens Crossroad community off U.S. 117 between Faison and Warsaw.

Word leaked out that the company was considering buying the Georgia-Pacific plant for a rendering plant. Neighbors formed a group called Concerned Citizens of the Bowdens Community, which met for the fourth time Tuesday night at the Bowden Presbyterian Church to discuss forming a town.

In a letter dated May 7 to Duplin County Manager Fred Eldridge, Anderson said the company has "no interest in purchasing or developing a facility of any kind on land currently owned by Georgia-Pacific in the northern Duplin County community of Bowden."

Although the group formed to fight the rendering plant, members are considering seeking incorporation as a town during the session of the General Assembly that starts in December.

Dr. Greg Bounds spoke to the group Tuesday night about the support gained for incorporation. He said State Sen. Charlie Albertson and State Rep. Larry Bell were helpful.

He said Rep. Bell encouraged the group to seek incorporation, saying there are many more benefits besides zoning, which can be used to control the type of development that comes into the community.

"Bell said he would be glad to sponsor a local bill calling for incorporation," said Bounds. "I had a similar conversation with Charlie Albertson."

Allen Holmes, chairman of the group, said he learned last week the company is no longer interested in the Georgia-Pacific property.

"It was you that made this possible," he told the group. "Numbers make a difference. Concerned citizens make things happen. People laughed at us and said, 'you can't do it.' We have done it. ... It's because the Bowdens community came together with one concern to protect each other."

The company is still looking for a place in eastern North Carolina to build a rendering plant, he said, urging the group to continue being vigilant.

Another member of the group, Jack Sauls, said incorporation is vital so the people in the community can have something to say about what happens there. "We can't quit. It's that simple," he said, adding that incorporation as a town is the only way the community will have any control.

Group member Sprunt Hall said there are plenty of other companies, subsidiaries, holding companies that need to be watched. There's a lot to be done in gaining incorporation as a town, he said. "It's got to be started on now."

The group will vote on whether to incorporate as a town during its next meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. on May 25 at the Presbyterian Church.

The town limits could be a one-mile radius around the Bowdens Crossroad, with an extraterritorial jurisdiction of one mile out from the town limit. That, too, will be discussed. During that meeting, Bonnie and Claud Moore of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League will also speak about environmental concerns.