Gadsden Airport Authority hires more attorneys prior to rendering plant litigation

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Today, the Gadsden Airport Authority held an executive session. They interviewed more attorneys to represent them in the ongoing litigation about the zoning of land the authority owns.

Currently, there are two offers on the land. One from Pilgrims Pride and the other offer from citizens and business owners in Etowah County.

Pilgrims Pride sent the authority a letter of intent on June 16th. Attorney Christie Knowles sent one on behalf of business leaders on June 22nd offering to purchase 88 acres for $1,200,000, or entering in a 30 year ground lease for $60,000 per year.

Residents attending Tuesdays meeting continue to express opposition against the rendering plant. Some stating the land is only zoned for light industries and Pilgrims Pride’s plant does not meet those qualification.

Martha Palazzolo, has lived in Etowah County majority of her life and says the airport has too much to offer and will go to waste if the plant comes there.

“We are concerned that the airport will be endangered by this plant,” says Palazzolo. “We’re here to try to prevent them from replacing the zoning. Because it’s not zoned for big industry over there near the airport.”

She recalls going to the airport as a little girl on Sundays with her family. Her father would always say the city should do something with all the land here. Palazzolo wants the airport authority and city leaders to put residents and listen to what they want in their community.

“The city council,” says Palazzolo. “They need to be more aggressive in getting things done here and not accepting just the crumbs.”

Business owners and community members in Etowah county are offering the more thank Pilgrims Pride for the land. Palazzolo says this is the best offer on the table.

“People in this community in Etowah County,” says Palazzolo, “has the heart to show these people here that are in charge of our community that we have the heart to make the Gadsden airport something very special. Put something over there that will be an asset.”

Pilgrims Pride is requesting assistance from the airport authority and the city of Gadsden on rezoning the land. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are asking to block the rezoning. There’s an expedited hearing at the Etowah County Courthouse on Thursday at 9am. We’ll continue to follow this story and provide updates.

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