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Lawmaker introduces bill requiring rendering plant to compensate nearby property owners

The legislation would require Pilgrim’s Pride to compensate the owners of nearby properties for loss of property value.

A planned rendering plant near the airport in Gadsden has drawn widespread local opposition. (FACEBOOK)

An Alabama state senator has introduced legislation that would require the owners of animal byproduct processing plants in Etowah County to compensate nearby property owners if the property owners experience any loss of property value because of the processing plants.

While not specifically named, the legislation — sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre —  is targeting a Pilgrim’s Pride rendering plant that the city of Gadsden wants to locate near the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport. The Steele Station Road site is near many property owners in Rainbow City on Neely Henry Lake. Those residents have been adamant that they do not want the rendering plant in their community.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is currently considering applications for permits at the proposed rendering plant. A rendering plant converts packing house waste, kitchen grease and livestock carcasses into industrial fats and oils — such as tallow for soap — and various other products including fertilizer. Pilgrim’s Pride is a major employer in Etowah County and the surrounding counties.

Jones’s legislation, filed as Senate Bill 131, would require Pilgrim’s Pride to:

  • compensate the owners of certain nearby properties for loss of property value
  • authorize the county or a municipality to charge a fee for the use of a landfill by certain animal byproduct processing facilities
  • provide for removal of certain abandoned animal byproduct processing facilities.

Gadsden insists that the city needs the jobs from the plant, and Pilgrim’s Pride insists that it needs the rendering plant to deal with the waste material from its chicken processing plants in Gadsden.

Jones’s legislation would not apply to slaughterhouses, deer processing facilities, butcher shops or any other animal processing facilities “processing animal products meant for human consumption.”

SB131 would apply only to an “animal byproduct processing facility that begins operations at any time following six months prior to the effective date of this act and which is located within three miles of the corporate limits of a municipality.”

Jones said that Pilgrim’s Pride has had more than $50,000,000 in fines assessed against them since January 1, 2000, for violations of federal law and regulations.

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The property owners compensated for the loss of property value would be within three miles of the facility.

The bill has been assigned to the state Senate’s Local Legislation Committee. The 2021 Legislative Session began on Tuesday.

Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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