Etowah County lawmaker drafts bill discouraging animal rendering plant coming to Gadsden

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RAINBOW CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — “I want you to know, if any repeat-violator seeks to open an animal byproduct processing plant here, such as a rendering facility, they are going to have to play by our rules, not their rules,” said Sen. Andrew Jones before explaining the bill he drafted.

A proposed animal rendering plant has residents concerned about environmental impacts and property values. The plant, owned by Pilgrim’s Pride, would be located on Steele Station Road in Gadsden.

Residential homes are nearby the proposed plant’s location, as well as businesses and schools. Jessica Williamson began building her dream home before finding out the plant could be her next-door neighbor.

“We broke ground on our new house and poured the footers,” said Williamson. “Eight hours later we found out about the rendering plant.”

The 36 acres of land has been in her husband’s family for forty years. When she found out the rendering plant would be built 200 yards away, she shut down the construction of her home.

“We’re not against industries coming in, we just don’t think this is the right fit for our area,” said Williamson.

Sen. Andrew Jones drafted a bill to discourage the plant from coming to Etowah County.

The bill, if signed into law, would require the plant to pay for appraisals for every property owner within a three-mile radius. The plant would be required to pay the appraisal fees.

Three years after the plant’s opening, the appraisal would be completed again, paid for by the plant. The plant would then be required to pay for a loss in property value to all owners within the three-mile radius.

“Make them pay for the economic damage they will do to our community,” said Jones. “We are talking about potentially 100’s of millions of dollars in penalties here.”

Jones feels confident this bill is iron clad, and will pass the legislature.

“They are going to have to play by our rules, not their rules,” he said.

ADEM will be holding a public input hearing on the environmental impacts of the rendering plant. A 30-day notice must be given to the public prior to the meeting. A date has yet to be announced.

After the ADEM meeting, Gadsden city council is expected to vote on the project.


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