06/15/11 — Judge dismisses Sanderson suit

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Judge dismisses Sanderson suit

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 15, 2011 1:46 PM

Superior Court Judge Russell Duke Jr. has ruled against a lawsuit seeking to overturn zoning by Nash County commissioners that would help clear the way for a $94 million chicken processing plant that would employ about 1,000 people.

The lawsuit, filed by the city of Wilson and 30 Nash and Wilson County residents, alleges that Nash County commissioners violated normal zoning practices when they rezoned the site for Sanderson Farms.

They alleged that the 150 acre-site near the intersection of N.C. 97 and Tar River Church Road in Nash County was "contract" zoned -- zoned for a specific purpose without consideration for other uses.

Nash County purchased the 150 acres in December for $1.2 million and the suit was filed April 26.

Wilson City Attorney Jim Cauley could not be reached prior to press time for comment on whether or not the ruling would be appealed.

However, for now the project is on hold due to commodity prices, Sanderson Farms officials have said.

According to an Associated Press report in February, Sanderson Farms Inc. took a fiscal first-quarter loss. The loss was blamed on lower chicken prices, slow demand from restaurants and higher feed prices.

Wayne County also has been considered for the project that was announced last spring. No site has been identified in Wayne County, but speculation has centered on the northern part of the county.

The plant project consists of an expansion of the feed mill for Sanderson's Kinston plant, a hatchery, a processing plant with capacity to process 1.25 million "big bird" chickens per week and a wastewater treatment facility.