Rivian opponents refile lawsuits to challenge Georgia's site takeover
Published in Automotive News
A group of residents near the future $5 billion Rivian electric vehicle plant east of Atlanta is taking Georgia state and local officials back to court.
Six people, who either live in or own property in Morgan County near the 2,000-acre project site, filed lawsuits Friday accusing the state of illegally circumventing local zoning codes and land disturbance permits while local officials refuse to enforce their codes.
The litigation effectively continues a legal battle that was briefly paused in December after a local judge refused to issue a stop-work order against grading work taking place in preparation for Rivian. John Christy, an attorney representing opponents of the development, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his clients had to file two lawsuits, one in Fulton County and one in Morgan County, to individually sue the state and county.
He said the state is trying to take over the project because a rezoning effort was threatened by local opposition.
“It’s a question of whether or not the state can run roughshod over the citizens because the state wants something to be done even though it’s not for a public use or purpose,” Christy said. “It’s for a private enterprise.”
The EV factory is slated for rural property in southern Morgan and Walton counties, located roughly an hour east of Atlanta. The site, which consists of 28 parcels owned by a local development authority, is zoned for agricultural use, not industrial.
Last February, the state assumed control of the project and withdrew rezoning applications before local officials got a chance to vote on them. In many situations, local zoning does not apply to state-owned land, which includes properties owned by development authorities.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development said the new lawsuits are an attempt to slow down work on the Rivian project and have no legal basis.
“It is crystal clear that plaintiffs’ motivation is to file as many frivolous suits as possible and try to delay and stall progress on the Rivian project in a weak effort to cause Rivian to pull out of the deal — ultimately denying thousands of Georgians high-quality jobs and billions in new investments,” the department said in a statement.
County officials declined to comment, saying they haven’t been served on the new case and haven’t reviewed the complaint.
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