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Hearing Postponed On Hog Farm Suit Against Supervisors

A hearing before Judge James A. Luke scheduled for Friday in Halifax County Circuit Court to address a motion for a partial judgment sought by Link Farms against the Halifax County Board of Supervisors was postponed due to an attorney illness, according to court officials. A new hearing date of March 23 has been set.

The case arises from the supervisors’ adoption of a resolution that prohibited county staff from certifying that any proposed confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) was consistent with the county’s zoning ordinances when the county had no such ordinances regulating CAFOs, according to the complaint.

In 1998, Link Farms sought a modification of its permit to expand its swine CAFO to approximately 8,500 swine that would be sheltered in 10 houses.  Since 1996, the farm consisted of 2,700 swine divided among three houses, according to the document.

“This case also arises from and challenges the county’s refusal, based on the moratorium, to certify that Link Farms’ proposed expansion of its swine CAFO was in compliance with then-existing zoning laws,” the motion states.  “Link Farms’ motion for partial summary judgment seeks to resolve the underlying legal issue in this case – that the board lacked the authority under the laws of the commonwealth to adopt the moratorium.”

The motion alleges, “With full knowledge of Link Farms’ proposed expansion on Dec. 7, 1998, the board adopted the moratorium that prohibited the county’s staff from approving any local government ordinance forms (LGOF) in furtherance of applications for CAFO permits until the planning commission and the board could propose and adopt zoning ordinance amendments restricting such previously unregulated activities.

“As a direct consequence of the moratorium, when Link Farms submitted its LGOF to the county in July 1999, the county administrator (or his designee) refused to complete the form; and Link Farms was unable to complete its application to DEQ for its proposed expansion,” the motion states.

Link Farms is asserting that the moratorium adopted by the Halifax County Board is a void act and is asking the court to enter an order granting its motion for partial summary judgment declaring the moratorium invalid and granting Link Farms any further relief as the court deems appropriate.