New House of Raeford plant in South Carolina suffers setback

City Council cites concerns about wastewater capacity.

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House Of Raeford
House of Raeford

County officials declined to take action on the second reading of an ordinance that would bring a proposed House of Raeford poultry plant to Aiken County, South Carolina.

The Aiken Standard reported that the ordinance, which would have provided a fee in lieu of a tax agreement, “is as dead as Marley’s ghost,” according to County Council chairman Gary Bunker. The first reading of the ordinance was approved in March following a 6-1 vote from the Aiken City Council.

“For the most part, I think most of Council was in the end concerned about the capacity issue with the Horse Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant,” Bunker said. “Currently, the City of Aiken has no uncommitted, available capacity right now that they could apply to the (House of Raeford) project. Aiken County is down to about 300,000 to 500,000 gallons of uncommitted, unsold capacity. So for a plant to come in seeking 1.7 million gallons a day of usage, that just does not compute.

Governor asked council to defer vote

Prior to the Tuesday meeting, Bunker received a letter from South Carolina governor Henry McMaster that asked the panel to defer its vote on the ordinance.

"As you know, this important project will create 900 jobs in Aiken County with a $200 million capital investment," he wrote. "It will have an estimated $1.6 billion economic impact to the region over five years and will produce 493 million pounds of poultry per year for the domestic food supply chain."

“I also understand there has been concern over limited water and sewer capacity in Aiken, and whether the limited capacity remaining should be devoted to a sole project or end user,” McMaster continued. “I am committed to assist in identifying state funding to help address these water and sewer infrastructure needs, so that Aiken County may be able to accommodate both the House of Raeford and plan for future growth as well.

“I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and Aiken City Council on this matter,” McMaster concluded.

House of Raeford did not respond to a WATTPoultry request for comment.

House of Raeford already has operations in three other South Carolina communities. It also operates in the states of North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia.

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