I am a Delta resident, a York Township trustee, and a teacher at Pike-Delta-York. After reading your article about NatureFresh’s (R-3 Residential) zoning request to build housing for their foreign workers on their property, the disappointment and disillusion of dealing with this company crept back into my mind.
Almost five years ago, my fellow York Township trustees and I ran into brick wall after brick wall trying to develop an annexation agreement with the Village of Delta regarding NatureFresh. We received very little cooperation from Mr. Brad Peebles, Delta village administrator, who seemed to be in constant contact with NatureFresh officials. Then we made efforts to contact NatureFresh to schedule a meeting to discuss the York Township land they wanted to purchase. They declined to meet, and rebuked us by saying they weren’t interested in getting into squabbles over what political entity receives tax money.
The tax abatement fiasco has been well-documented. When Delta successfully annexed the land, they offered NatureFresh the pre-’94 tax abatement plan, where the company would not have to pay one cent of property tax for 10 years, overriding the Fulton County Economic Development Corp.’s already-negotiated agreement of 100 percent abatement with a 50 percent donation back to the Delta, York Township, and PDY schools.
Next, homes housing NatureFresh’s foreign workers started popping up in Delta and York Township. While I have no problem with migrant housing, I do have a problem where these houses are located: in residential areas.
At this point, I was trying to find a way to get a positive relationship going with the company. During a conversation with Delta’s Vocational Agriculture teacher, I found out he needed a bigger greenhouse, and mentioned he wanted to try NatureFresh’s methods of growing tomatoes. We figured we could duplicate Naturefresh’s operation on a much smaller scale, to possibly train some of our students to be future emplyees of the company. Last May, the Vo-Ag students, their teacher, and I toured the NatureFresh facility.
I pitched the idea of NatureFresh construction engineers helping us design and get parts for a greenhouse at the high school. The first few emails with operations manager Cornelius Neufeld seemed positive, but…Cornelius sent me an email stating that his engineers declined to help us. In other words, NatureFresh has no interest in working with the school.
Under normal circumstances, I would possibly consider (the R-3 residential request). But, NatureFresh has never once given me any indication that it cares one bit about the Delta community. They have continually proven to me that NatureFresh only cares about NatureFresh. I would not grant one zoning change until Peter Quiring, president and CEO of NatureFresh, sits down and speaks, without Mr. Peebles speaking for him, with community leaders about how to repair this relationship.
Delta resident, PDY teacher, York Township trustee