RANSON, W.Va. — Danish insulation company Rockwool is filing a lawsuit over an attempt by the Jefferson County Board of Education to condemn the future site of their next plant.
According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Jefferson County BOE initially offered to buy 194.7 acres from Rockwool’s property for a Regional Student Support Center. Rockwool declined the offer.
The suit then alleges “the BOE threatened to condemn the property”.
Law firm Spilman Thomas and Battle, LLC released a statement on behalf of Rockwool. The firm said the BOE’s attempts to take the land is an abuse of power.
“Condemnation is an awesome and intrusive governmental power, and left unchecked, the potential for abuse — especially in land use disputes like this — is boundless.
For that reason, there are significant legal checks on the power to condemn private property. We believe the Board of Education’s actions to be arbitrary and an abuse of power.
No amount of compensation can authorize such action.”
The plant has sparked a heated controversy in Jefferson County and in neighboring Loudoun County, Virginia. Residents and environmental activists are concerned about the $150 million plant’s close location to North Jefferson, TA Lowery Elementary Schools as well as Wildwood Middle and Jefferson High Schools. It will be located on land formerly known as Jefferson Orchards.
Jefferson County Vision, one of the leading non-profit groups against Rockwool, released a statement in support of the BOE.
“Jefferson County Vision strongly supports this action by the Board of Education and agrees that the Regional Student Support Center proposed by the Board of Education is the best and most appropriate use of the Jefferson Orchards site.”
Other concerns focus on potential air pollutants and the appearance of two smokestacks in the rural area.
Vice President of Group Communications for Rockwool told MetroNews affiliate WEPM Tuesday the company could not comment further on the matter.
The Ranson plant will include two stacks each about 213 feet tall, 460,000 square feet of space and could use between 100,000 and 125,000 gallons of water per day. The plant is expected to employ roughly 150 people in positions ranging from production to management.
Construction is on track to finish in 2020.