Chesapeake OKs controversial biodiesel plant in South Norfolk
The City Council voted 7-2 late Tuesday night in favor of building a $532 million biodiesel plant in South Norfolk, despite concerns raised over the past few months about the California-based developer.
“In this case, we’re getting the benefit of a new company that’s going to be providing jobs, taxes and cleaning up a section of South Norfolk, and they’re not asking for anything from us,” said Councilwoman Patricia Willis. “That is just so unusual.”
If Smiling Earth follows through, the plant will be the country’s largest biodiesel producer. It will make 320 million gallons per year, more than the entire amount of the alternative fuel produced in the United States last year.
Company representatives say they will try to build the plant in nine months and want to have it running by next fall .
Smiling Earth also committed up to $5 million to revitalize or redevelop the community of South Hill and will be required to come up with the money before getting a certificate of occupancy.