Colorado Company: Rezone for Alabama Plant; Plans in Court

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A Colorado-based company has asked an Alabama airport to rezone about 88 acres for a proposed plant that would turn dead chickens and chicken parts into animal food.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. wrote to the Gadsden Airport Authority on Friday, asking it to rezone the property from light to heavy industrial use, The Gadsden Times reported. This is the company’s first formal request involving the land, according to the newspaper.

“It’s Pilgrim’s Pride coming out of the dark and into the light,” attorney Christie Knowles said In an online update for people opposed to the plant.

An Etowah County judge has said the city of Gadsden cannot approve the rendering plant until he decides a lawsuit seeking a permanent order against allowing the plant on land zoned for light industry. That trial is scheduled for July.

Plans for the plant have been the subject of vocal community opposition since they became public last year. Opponents say it would be smelly and dangerous, bringing in too much traffic and possibly posing a hazard to airport operations.

Asked if Pilgrim’s Pride is violating Circuit Judge George Day’s order, Knowles indicated she expects the company to argue that the rezoning request is not asking for anything barred by the order.

The company’s letter states that the land recently was appraised at $12,500 per acre.

“Pilgrim’s is interested in either purchasing the tract for its total appraised value of $1,100,000, or, alternatively, entering into a 30-year ground lease (with rights of extension) for $55,000 per year (payable in quarterly increments),” it said.

The judge wrote earlier this month that the plant, located near homes, schools, and at least one church, would receive 120 truckloads of dead chickens and chicken parts around the clock each day.

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