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Tonopah exploring legal options to stop Hickman’s Family Farms

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Shane McOwen's picture

Tonopah residents spoke out against a Hickman’s Family Farms’ egg plant going into the town at a meeting on Jan. 9. Now, some of those residents are looking to the legal side of things to stop the facility from going in.

Hickman’s Family Farms is scheduled to break ground on a new egg production facility near 411th Avenue and Indian School Road in Tonopah within the next few weeks.

The Tonopah Valley Community Council, which serves the unincorporated area as an intermediary between the community and external governing bodies of the state and county, has held public forums to discuss the egg plant. The council doesn’t have the power to tax or govern.

Construction on Hickman’s Family Farms’ egg facility is set to begin in early February. The site is zoned as agriculture, and the company has moved through the proper channels to build on the site.

Residents voice opposition

Tonopah residents voiced concerns about increased truck traffic along the roads, environmental safety and responsibility for the area and potential odors from the chicken feces at the Jan. 9 meeting at the Saddle Mountain RV Park, 40902 W. Osborn Road.

“Hickman’s put together the last [meeting], so it was very slanted towards them,” Tonopah Valley Community Council President Rick Moreau said. “They were trying to put a good face on a stinky situation.”

Tonopah held its own meeting, minus Hickman’s representatives, Jan. 21, Moreau said.

“The previous week, a lot of people volunteered to gather information on certain topics and so forth,” Moreau said. “We’re gathering information so we can put together a viable defense of Tonopah.”

Tonopah is looking into the possibility of requiring an environmental impact study, Moreau said.

“The agriculture designation of that property doesn’t require that, but if we can show just cause to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, they can come in and require them to do an impact statement,” Moreau said. “That’s the one right now that looks the most promising, near-term solution that we can actually accomplish.”

Moreau said several business owners near the site are planning on meeting with lawyers to discuss their options.

“We’re hoping we may be able to get the courts to do an injunction or something to stop them doing construction,” Moreau said. “The lawsuits are going to be worthless if they have the place all built up by the time the court hears it.”

Good neighbors?

“We’re really disappointed that the basic attitude at the end of the meeting with Hickman’s was, ‘thanks for all your input, but tough luck, we’re doing it anyway,’” Moreau said. “That meeting was just to put lipstick on the pig.

“They really didn’t have any intention of listening to us or doing anything. They just wanted to make it look like they’re nice neighbors. They’re not.”

Moreau said he and the residents of Tonopah feel Hickman’s didn’t pick an appropriate site for its facility.

“We have no problem with them running their business and expanding it and growing and making money,” Moreau said. “It’s just really bad they picked a site that’s so inappropriate that’s right next to so many people and businesses.”

Billy Hickman said the company chose the site because of its accessibility to the highway and because it’s not too far away for potential employees to commute to. Moreau said other areas share those qualities and aren’t in the middle of town.

“There are places they could have picked that would have been so much more appropriate,” Moreau said. “Maybe this place had a whole bunch of things going for them … but other places wouldn’t have been that tough, and if they had any respect for the surrounding people, they would have gone to one of those other spots.”

 

Shane McOwen can be reached by email at smcowen@westvalleyview.com.

 

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