Residents of Onida, S.D., who oppose a $140 million ethanol plant planned just outside of the small town are fighting in court, but it isn't slowing the project.
Opponents' attorney Adam Altman argued during a hearing Monday that Sully County leaders improperly gave the plant a permit, the Capital Journal reported. Attorneys for the county and ethanol company said the argument lacks substance.
Judge John Brown did not immediately rule, but Ringneck Energy President and CEO Walt Wendland said after the hearing that the company is moving ahead.
"We have a construction manager showing up tomorrow morning," he said. "We've got equipment showing up today or tomorrow. I would hope we have dirt moving by the end of the week."
The plant would produce 70 million gallons of ethanol fuel annually from about 25 million bushels of corn grown in the region. The County Commission earlier this year rezoned a parcel of land to pave the way for the plant that will employ about 40 people. The decision was referred to voters who in June overwhelmingly backed the zoning change, with supporters saying it will help the economy and expand the market for farmers.
Ringneck Energy hopes to have the plant operating by spring 2017, according to Wendland. He and other company executives are holding dozens of investor meetings around the region to raise $70 million in equity to get the plant off the ground. They have raised about $30 million so far.
About 675 people live in Onida, which is about 30 miles northeast of Pierre.