Armed with a number of concerns, hundreds pack Tonganoxie park for forum on proposed Tyson plant

TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- Hundreds gathered in Tonganoxie's Chieftain Park on Friday evening to hear the latest on a proposed Tyson Chicken Plant coming to Leavenworth County.

Since the September 5th announcement many residents have come out in opposition of the company building near Tonganoxie with concerns over pollution, noise and smell among other things.

"Clean air, clean water and the way that they handle contract farming, makes our proud farmers over time become indentured servants to big ugly corporations…. those are the top three reasons," said Tonganoxie resident Lora Lee Stevens.

Stevens was among the crowd of people who attended the forum on Friday to hear the latest on this issue. State Representatives Willie Dove and Jim Karlesknit addressed the crowds towards the beginning of the meeting. To some residents' disappointment each came out with a neutral stance on the issue, refusing to take a side for or against Tyson building a new processing plant nearby.

The state representatives are also spread hope among residents, by informing them there are still important zoning issues that have yet to be passed by Leavenworth County commissioners before the Tyson Plant can move forward.

"Going forward if the county decides that they will not issue the necessary permits then it's a done deal, but right now it's not a done deal because they've not had their chance to weigh in. That's why it's so important that these individuals that we see here tonight come forward and speak and let us know exactly what their feelings are," said Dove.

Dove says the land Tyson wants to build on is not yet zoned for commercial use. Tyson Foods must first submit a re-zoning request to the county, and commissioners would then have to approve that request in order for plans to move forward. Still, citizens can submit documentation against the proposed re-zoning to commissioners as well if they would like.