TROY A group opposed to Seaboard Farms' plans to build a hog processing plant has filed a lawsuit against Elwood's city government, seeking the ouster of the entire city council.
The group, Concerned Citizens of Doniphan County, filed its lawsuit Friday in Doniphan County District Court. In addition to the ouster of council members, it also seeks unspecified damages and the voiding of the economic development agreement between the city and Merriam-based Seaboard Farms.
In its lawsuit, the group alleges that the city council:
Met in executive session to discuss an economic development agreement with Seaboard Farms;
Annexed Seaboards' property without proper notice to surrounding land owners;
Sought rezoning for Seaboard's property on behalf of the company.
Donald and Brenda Kirkland, two of the group's leaders, also signed on as plaintiffs in the suit. They live within 1,000 feet of the planned location for the slaughterhouse.
The members of the Elwood City Council Jim Rader, David Burns, C.J. Garner, Lawrence Mays, George Mitchell Jr. and Carol Hall are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
"All I can tell you is we've received it," Elwood City Attorney Joel Euler said of the lawsuit. "We will respond to it. Right now it would appear it's just another effort by the folks opposed the location of the meat manufacturing plant."
Rader, mayor of Elwood, declined to comment on the suit. However, he said Monday that plans for the plant will move ahead for now, unless the city council votes to postpone taking any further action.
Today, the city council is scheduled once again to take up the issue of rezoning Seaboard's property.
"They've already purchased the land and it's been annexed into the city. The only other procedure we have set now is the zoning change," Rader said.
"Everything that was planned will go ahead."
The council at first recommended rezoning to the Doniphan County Zoning Board, but the zoning board sent the issue back, saying it needed further review.
The city council declined to examine its approval a second time, sending it back again to the Zoning Board which sent it back again with a recommendation against rezoning the property.
Concerned Citizens for Doniphan County has argued that the city doesn't have a valid zoning code.