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Beef plant future could hinge on Friday decision

May 02, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The future of the under-construction beef plant in Brawley could be decided Friday in Imperial County Superior Court during a hearing on the merits of a case against the plant.

The hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in Department 9 in the County Courthouse in El Centro with Judge Jeffrey Jones presiding.

Local rancher Bill Brandt, a co-owner of the beef plant, said there have been attempts to settle the issue but no agreements have been reached.

The lawsuit was filed by Darwin Cohee, owner of La Bolsa Inc., a soil-reclamation business on Shank Road not far from where the beef plant is being built.

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Cohee has contended his business would be hurt, and could be put out of business, because of traffic created by the beef plant.

His concern, he has said, stems from the fact the plant will create at least 600 full-time jobs. He has said the traffic created by people driving to work in the morning and leaving in the evening could prevent trucks from going in and out of his business.

Those involved with the beef plant project have argued while the plant will create 600 jobs, that does not mean there will be that number of vehicles traveling past La Bolsa.

They have contended traffic to the beef plant will come from different directions, adding the beef plant should not have a negative effect on businesses along Shank Road.

Cohee filed his lawsuit after the city of Brawley voted against an appeal Cohee filed to a decision made by the city Planning Commission to award a permit for the building of the beef plant.

In rejecting Cohee's appeal, council members said traffic studies done on the project show changes to Shank Road will not be necessary because of the beef plant.

Those traffic studies state such improvements would be needed if more development occurs in the area.

Cohee has contended the traffic studies did not adequately address traffic questions connected to the plant.

Cohee has said he is not against the beef plant project but simply wants his concerns addressed.

Work on the beef plant is on-going and the plant is projected to open toward the end of October.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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