Allen Harim Foods cleared a major legal hurdle in its efforts to convert a former Vlasic pickle plant into a poultry processing complex, as the Delaware Environmental Appeals Board (DEAB) denied a challenge to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s approval of the poultry processor’s plans. Environmental and local neighborhood groups had challenged the plans, citing worries that a chicken processing plant would cause further pollution to area land and water.

The five-member appeals board unanimously voted on May 13 to reject the challenge to Allen Harim’s plans for the property in Millsboro, Delaware, and on June 24 released a written opinion on the matter. The appeals board’s opinion stated that some of the pollution cited by the plan’s opponents likely came from their own neighborhoods, according to Delaware Public Media.

“This is a very positive step, but it is just one of many necessary to complete the purchase of the property,” stated Allen Harim CEO Steven A. Evans. “We appreciate the support of legislators in Sussex County and in state government, as well as the commitment of the more than 200 growers across Delmarva who produce the highest quality traditional, antibiotic-free and Halal-blessed chicken. We are squarely focused on continuing to grow our business across the county, the state and the region.”

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Allen Harim Foods hopes to employ as many as 700 people at the complex, where it hopes to process a smaller breed of chickens used in a ginseng stew popular in Asia, the company has stated.

While the DEAB’s decision is welcome news for Allen Harim Foods, another major legal challenge remains. A case in Delaware Superior Court that challenges the Sussex County Board of Adjustment’s approval for the potential Allen Harim facility is pending.