MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Following a hearing spanning two days, a federal judge has determined the Jefferson County Board of Education cannot take action to interfere with Rockwool’s construction of a new wool insulation facility in Ranson.
MetroNews affiliate WEPM previously reported Danish insulation company Rockwool declined an offer from the Jefferson BOE to buy 194.7 acres of land for a Regional Student Support Center.
After this, a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia alleges “the (Jefferson) 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.”
On Wednesday, Chief U.S. District Judge Gina Groh denied the BOE’s motion to to dismiss Rockwool’s suit.
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.
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.