The city of Wilson and a Nash County landowners group won a war of attrition against Sanderson Farms.
In lawsuit after lawsuit, the plaintiffs tried to show that Nash County commissioners made illegal decisions to attract Sanderson into building a poultry processing plant near N.C. 97 and Interstate 95. In hearing after hearing, courts found in favor of Nash County commissioners. The plaintiffs have yet to win a single verdict that upholds their complaints.
They won the war anyway. Sanderson officials, tired of waiting for a seemingly endless campaign of lawsuits to play out, announced in late 2012 they were no longer interested in the Nash County site. The company plans to look elsewhere for a place to build a plant that would have hired 1,100 people in the Twin Counties area.
But that victory apparently isn’t enough for Wilson and the landowners who opposed the plant. Fresh from their latest court defeat – a unanimous decision from the N.C. Court of Appeals – the plaintiffs are asking the N.C. Supreme Court to take a look at the case anyway. To do so, the court would have to virtually ignore the findings of lower courts and take up the case on its own.
The cost of the appeal would add more expense to the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars already spent on the case. And all of this over a piece of property that Sanderson Farms says it is no longer interested in.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs told Telegram reporter Darla Slipke that Wilson and the Nash County landowners fear Sanderson will change its mind about the site. That’s hard to believe, considering how publicly Sanderson has made its intentions known in each step of the process.
The appeal also calls into question the sincerity of Wilson officials and landowners when they argue they want to see a “better” company locate in the area.
With plaintiffs prolonging the litigation, we’re not likely to see a new corporate neighbor eager to look at the site any time soon. We can’t help but wonder if that’s the real reason for continuing this battle.