tag: North Carolina Land Use Litigator: A Game of Chicken: Nash County Rezones Land In Controversial Bid for Processing Plant

Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 1:43 PM

A Game of Chicken: Nash County Rezones Land In Controversial Bid for Processing Plant

This past weekend, a swath of property off of N.C. Route 97 hosted a rally staged by a number of Nash County residents opposed to the location of a chicken processing plant. The protestors were comin' in on a "wing" and a prayer.

Earlier this month, the County's Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to re-zone 150 acres of land to allow for general industrial development. That reclassification of the property will allow more than 195 industrial uses, including a new Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant. It's been reported that County officials had been courting the Sanderson Farms facility and its approximated 1,100 jobs, and that, in turn, the Nash County property is a finalist for the "high tech" and "well-regulated" processing plant. It's also been reported that the City of Wilson in Wilson County, to the south of the re-zoned land at issue, has committed $1,000,000 to fight the proposed project should plans advance.

The lesson is that contentious projects do not singly divide between developers and the local governments/public outcry. These situations are oftentimes more complicated, and, as here, can even divide between local governments. With Sanderson Farms currently enjoying what seems to be a "leg" up, we'll follow how this issue proceeds.

***UPDATE November 23, 2010 UPDATE***
The City of Wilson, North Carolina has come through on its pledge to stop all the clucking. According to a regional news outlet, the City has sued Nash County alleging that the rezoning of the 150 acres violates state law.

Mike Thelen is a lawyer in Womble Carlyle's Real Estate Litigation practice group. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients in land use and land development issues, from local governments to businesses, in both state and federal venues throughout North Carolina.

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