MILLSBORO – Allen Harim announced last week it no longer plans to transform a former pickle plant into large-scale poultry processing.
In a release issued Oct. 30, the company announced its plans to continue to use its Millsboro facility as a warehouse and storage location, and will not pursue plans for processing live chickens at the former Pinnacle Foods’ Vlasic pickle production site.
“Our company has a strategic plan that guides us in every decision we make, and we have concluded that our best course of action in Millsboro is to not process live chickens,” Allen Harim CEO Steve Evans said. “We have retained a commercial real estate broker to help us lease the space moving forward.”
“This is great economic development news for Sussex County,” said John McClellan, senior advisor for Sperry Van Ness/Miller Commercial Real Estate, who along with Henry Hanna, will be marketing the property. “This is an extremely attractive large space that offers rail access, high ceilings, multi-loading configurations, high electrical capacity, and it’s located in business-friendly Delaware.”
Allen Harim will continue to use some of the 470,000 square-foot building for storage and warehousing.
The company purchased the former Vlasic pickle plant from Pinnacle Foods in 2014. Recent court challenges to state permits at the facility have all been ruled in the company’s favor, the company noted.
Protecting Our Indian River – a grass-roots citizens’ group whose members include many residents who reside near the Iron Branch Road facility – have challenged permitting. POIR has been assisted by Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, a non-profit group.
In its challenges, POIR has contended the poultry plant that would process several million birds per week and discharge unprecedented amounts of animal and pharmaceutical waste into the adjacent Indian River.
“This is a great victory for the community,” said Maria Payan, a consultant with Socially Acceptable Agricultural Project. “I am very glad for the community and for the river, because this was long thought out. We’ve been doing this for three years down here.”
A Rapid Health Impact Assessment study compiled by the University of Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health/School of Public Health released in late July concurred with citizens’ concerns.
The study said Allen Harim’s proposed conversion of a former pickle plant into large-scale poultry processing would further pollute water and air in nearby communities that are already facing pollution from multiple sources.
The study recommended that Allen Harim locate such a plant in a more remote area.
“I think it is something that will inspire many communities that are in situations now where they are trying to design their community in a way that is going to be beneficial for them. Nobody wants to live next to a slaughterhouse. This place had way too much pollution and too many people that we’re being overburdened already,” said Ms. Payan. “The community and myself, we are thrilled as long as they are true to their word. I don’t close my eyes too much on these guys. For the community, I think they’ve got one eye open but they are thrilled.”
Allen Harim entered into a Brownfield Development Agreement with DNREC in efforts to purchase the 107-acre Pinnacle property on Iron Branch Road and convert it for poultry production.
Allen Harim had pledged as much as $10 million for site clean-up.
Following the purchase of Allen Family Foods in 2011 after Allen’s filed for bankruptcy; Allen Harim in April 2013 announced plans to invest $100 million in renovating the former pickle plant, which ceased operation after several decades with Pinnacles’ consolidation of pickle processing to its Michigan production facility.
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