Parties in rendering plant lawsuit: Not ready for trial Monday

·2 min read

Parties in a lawsuit aimed at blocking a rendering plant in Gadsden agree on one thing: They are not ready to go to trial Monday in the case that challenged the propriety of zoning at the proposed site.

In a joint motion filed Wednesday, attorneys for Dynamic Collision and other plaintiffs, as well as attorneys for the City of Gadsden and the Gadsden Airport Authority, asked Etowah County Presiding Judge George Day to hold a status conference in the case to set a scheduling order and address pending motions.

The case in September was scheduled to go to trial beginning Monday, but a lot has happened since then.

As the motion states, Pilgrim's Pride filed a request Nov. 30 to remove the case to federal court, and at that point, all discovery in preparation for the pending trial came to a standstill. The federal court sent the case back to state court Dec. 20.

Pilgrim's had proposed buying or leasing land at the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport for a pet food ingredient plant — what's commonly known as a rendering plant. When neighboring property owners learned of the proposal, there was widespread opposition that continued to grow.

Neighboring business Dynamic Collision was the first to file a lawsuit, which was joined by more than 20 property owners. The suit challenges the proposal to put the plant on property zoned for light industry, and as a potential nuisance.

Pilgrim's made a proposal to the GAA to buy or lease the property, detailing its plans for the rendering plant. A group opposing the plant also made a proposal to buy or lease the property, to develop an industrial park that would be limited to light industry.

On Dec. 17, the Gadsden Airport Authority voted to reject both proposals. GAA attorney Jim Williams said the board had "rejected the rendering" plant and called on lawyers who brought the lawsuit, and subsequent suits over alleged open records and open meetings violations, to dismiss their legal actions.

Opponents of the rendering plant remained dubious about the assertion that the rejection marked the death of the project. Attorneys Christie Knowles and Joshua Sullivan maintain the legal actions are needed; they seek assurance that not only will this proposed rendering plant be blocked, but that such a plant won't be located anywhere else in Etowah County.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or donna.thornton@gadsdentimes.com.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden rendering plant lawsuit lawyers say they're not ready for trial

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