Horse manure composting won’t be located in Pea Ridge
Published 10:00 pm Monday, March 14, 2016
By Leah Justice
A horse manure compost recycling center will not be located in the Pea Ridge community after some residents feared the business was moving to their neighborhood.
The Pea Ridge Community Center invited Sharon Decker, Tryon International Equestrian Center’s (TIEC) senior vice president of strategic initiatives, to speak to a group concerning the compost facility on Thursday, March 10 where she announced to an audience of about 60 people that the facility would not be coming to Pea Ridge.
“It is true that we were considering a site in the Pea Ridge community for compost and manure recycling,” Decker said. “We will not be doing that here. We had talked about a potential right of way into the property, or access into it, and we were not able to secure that so we are not considering that property anymore.”
TIEC is helping a private business owner, Tryon Equine Compost, owned by Corbett Stone who contracts to haul TIEC’s horse manure, as well as other area farms.
Decker said they are looking for about 20 acres to locate the composting facility and asked residents to let them know if they knew of a suitable property. She explained the process of composting manure and brought bags of horse manure at certain phases of composting to show the audience.
Pea Ridge Community Center’s Daryl Hardin facilitated the meeting and opened up the floor to questions and comments. Many residents who signed up to speak declined after hearing the facility would not be coming to Pea Ridge.
Ann Carswell said she hopes Pea Ridge will not be a place for this particular business and it’s hard to believe they can’t find the land to process this horse manure in some pine thicket or open area that would be suitable. She mentioned the area previously considered being near residences and two churches and that everyone is concerned about the increased traffic, smells and runoff from such a facility.
“We prefer a processing site not be anywhere in Pea Ridge,” Carswell said.
Terry Allen said some people know how he feels about the equestrian center. He said it’s the worst thing that ever happened to Polk County and it will make Polk’s taxes go up.
“Don’t come up here and put it on people’s property that don’t want it,” Allen said. “Put it on your own property. Don’t put it here.”
Decker responded that they will not be putting the facility in Pea Ridge.
Allen said he will never step foot on the equestrian center, will never eat at its restaurants and will never support it. Allen said he spoke to someone in Florida familiar with the Wellington facility who said Polk County doesn’t know what’s coming.
“I hope what happens won’t be what you expect,” Decker responded.
Others said they do support the equestrian center.
Clint Blanton said he lives in Columbus but grew up in Pea Ridge. He said Pea Ridge is not a good location for the horse manure facility and he hopes they will find somewhere that’s suitable away from people and churches. But he also said he supports the facility and thinks it will work out eventually.
Others asked why TIEC doesn’t process the manure on its own property.
Decker said TIEC has approximately 1,400 acres and currently has temporary sites on the property for the manure. She also mentioned that most of the property has plans for development and they felt like this was a good opportunity to help someone start a business and create jobs.
BJ Precourt said residents here are from Polk County, not just Pea Ridge so if they pick Green Creek to put the manure, there will still be people here who would side with them.
Decker responded that she’s “heard that clearly.”
Decker also said TIEC has researched burning the manure for energy production and other recycling strategies and they have put people in contact with Stone to help him with those strategies.
“We are trying to look at lots of options,” Decker said. “A lot of rural counties just dump it. Our hope is in this process somehow we might create compost, energy, make good of the waste that’s there.”
Tammy Waldrop said Stone is very smart and creative. She said she doesn’t think she would want the facility in Pea Ridge but she does support him as he’s researched it thoroughly.
Brenda Bean said she loves the equestrian center and appreciates very much its sensitivity to this issue. She also said she can’t wait to buy some of the compost and she’s really interested in other industries that are coming to TIEC such as more restaurants and a grocery store, which Decker confirmed is TIEC’s plans.
Another resident said he was with Allen. He said he lives less than a mile from the first site in Mill Spring and he doesn’t know Mr. Stone but the site had a creek running through it where his children play and he woke up to smells and flies every morning.
Decker said they are looking for suitable locations in several counties.
Shirley Pritchard said the sign says Tryon International Equestrian, it does not say Pea Ridge.
“What is Tryon’s should stay in Tryon,” Pritchard said.
Decker said the facility has a Tryon mailing address and later asked Blanton to help TIEC think about something to recognize Pea Ridge. Blanton said he thinks Pea Ridge needs more recognition and needs something at TIEC named Pea Ridge. Decker said she’s heard the same thing from Green Creek and said she’ll take that to heart and is very open to that. She also mentioned they are putting books about the area’s communities and other material in the visitor’s center, which tells about tourism attractions and other information about Polk and Rutherford counties. Decker said that would be the perfect place to tell about the Pea Ridge and Green Creek communities.
Allen asked if Decker worked for the state commerce department and accused Decker of helping TIEC get things accomplished without permits.
Decker said that’s not true. Decker said she had two conversations with the owners during construction, one was about the ability to get water and sewer to the property and she connected them to the rural division about a grant, which she did not have a vote or sway in their decision. The other conversation, Decker said, was when Duke Power said they were going to put a transmission line in and she used to work for Duke Power so she gave Mark Bellissimo a phone number. She also said she came to TIEC’s ground breaking while she still worked for the state.
“I was glad I could help connect them to the grants and I make no apologies for that,” Decker said.
Precourt told Decker she paints a rosy picture but it’s not that rosy. He asked how putting a grocery store there would affect BiLo and Food Lion.
“It will raise my taxes there’s no doubt in my mind,” Precourt said.
Decker said she hopes there will be a lot of positive outcomes. She said she’s lived in the area (seven miles from the community center) 16 years with high unemployment rates and that’s nasty too. Decker said change is hard, she’ll be the first to admit it and change brings things some of us don’t want.
Precourt said Decker said at the beginning of the meeting they are not bringing the horse manure facility to Pea Ridge because they couldn’t get the property.
Precourt said if they could’ve gotten the property they would’ve put it in Pea Ridge.
“Not if this neighborhood is unhappy about it,” Decker answered. “We don’t want to be bad neighbors. There will a place that will work.”
Decker also said she recognizes that it’s not all easy and it’s not all well received.
Decker heard both positive and negative comments about TIEC during the approximate two-hour meeting. One woman said TIEC came after a huge downturn in the economy when people lost their houses and their employment. She said she hears nothing but negativity about TIEC but asked why residents aren’t complaining about dilapidated properties with old abandoned cars, but they see people cleaning up the area and giving people employment and complain.
Decker also gave some updates about TIEC during the discussion with residents, including that TIEC plans for a grocery store and other retail off Pea Ridge Road. An Italian restaurant and Mexican restaurant are also coming to TIEC soon, she said.
She said construction of the large hotel will likely begin in the next 18 month-two-time frame.
Decker said currently TIEC employs 54 full-time employees but during the summer will employ about 350 employees with TIEC’s plan to create even more full-time jobs. She said once TIEC is completely built she thinks they will employ more than 1,000 people, which should happen over the next 10-15 years.
Decker also opened up the floor to clarify any rumors the community has been hearing. After some questions, Decker said there are no plans for a Cracker Barrel to come to TIEC, there will be no airport at the facility, TIEC has not bought the cement plant nor purchased Blue Ridge Cabins and that Donald Trump is not a partner in the TIEC project at all.
Decker said she’d love to come back to Pea Ridge Community Center meetings every six months or so to update the community on what’s going on at TIEC, left business cards and invited anyone to contact her with questions or concerns.