Pilgrim’s Pride Feed Mill is trying to reassure residents who have complained about a humming noise resonating throughout Gainesville.
“We will do anything we can to be good neighbors in the community, but at the same time, the fan will always have to be here as long as we’re here,” said Jeff Vander Zanden, the feed mill’s manager.
Vander Zanden said the cooling system is an essential part of the process for making pellet feed. Since 1956 the plant has produced this type of feed, he said.
In order to more effectively cool the feed and provide a better product, Vander Zanden said the new fans were needed.
“We didn’t know what the volume would be until it was installed,” he said. “We immediately researched options and found an alternative measure.”
When Gainesville’s code enforcement division approached the feed mill in March, he said the corporation had already begun its plans for correcting the issue.
Since the feed mill had to receive approval from corporate, the process to install mufflers took over a month.
Vander Zanden said the new parts cost around $50,000.
Despite the attempts to muffle the sound, some residents around the feed mill still hear the noise.
“Even after the mufflers, the volume isn’t reducted that much,” said Jim O’Dell, who lives three miles from the plant. “Before the mufflers, I was literally sleeping wearing NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) earmuffs.”
O’Dell said he reached out in March on Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods, to see if other people noticed the sound. He quickly found out that many others, including Kristin Cash, were experiencing the same issue.
“It’s annoying to have to live in a city that’s supposed to feel like a small town, but sounds like downtown Atlanta,” Cash said.
Kathy Amos lives about two miles from the plant, and finds the noise “very annoying.”
“It’s one of those things that once you hear it, you can’t not hear it,” Amos said.
But Anthony Fury, who has lived near the plant for six or seven years, doesn't understand what the fuss is about.
"I think it's just people trying to make trouble," Fury said about noise complaints. "I think we're the closest to that place on this side of the track," and he doesn’t hear anything bothersome.
Pilgrim's Pride Feed Mill noiseNoise from Pilgrim's Pride Feed Mill in Gainesville can be heard in this video.
Fury lives in the 800 block of Chestnut Street, within sight of the plant.
"This has always been a quiet neighborhood. That's one thing I've always liked, you can come out here and it's Mother Nature just about,” Fury said. “Traffic was never too loud. ... This has always been a quiet part of the city."
Sandra Fury, who has lived there for three years agreed.
"I sit out here all the time, you know, even late at night we'll come out for a little bit, and I've never been disturbed by anything," she said. "We're out here different times of the night and even have the front window open."
If there is anything to complain about, it's not the plant, Anthony Fury said. He hears a nearby alarm that he said goes off a lot, and the train when it passes through.
"There was a building right here, and now they've knocked this building down a month, two months ago, and I've noticed the noise from the train got louder," Anthony Fury said. "I don't hear no noise from (Pilgrim's Pride) at all."
Vander Zanden said he is having a third party come out to conduct a sound level survey on the cooling system.
Joe Davidson, Gainesville’s building official, said this measure of sound intensity will give him an idea regarding his next plan of action for the feed mill.
“Once we receive a new rating, we can better tell what we’re up against and if there’s anything we will require them to do,” Davidson said.
News Editor Nate McCullough contributed to this report.