A judge today refused to let 30 Black Rock homeowners intervene in a battle between the city and an animal food plant over an odor law that threatens the business' existence.
State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang said the homeowners are "adequately represented" by the city's lawyers. The homeowners are part of a group of nearly 300 that petitioned the Common Council to close the 10-year-old Bakery Salvage Corp. plant at 138 Chandler St.
Bruce S. Zeftel, a lawyer for Bakery Salvage, complained to the judge that the homeowners were merely engaging in a legal "publicity stunt and a sham" to distract from the alleged defects in the odor code passed by the Common Council in July and amended last month.
Justice Wolfgang scheduled a Dec. 18 hearing on Zeftel's request for a court order declaring the odor code unconstitutional. He argues that it allows the Council to close a business merely on the complaints of homeowners.
The Council has suspended proceedings on homeowner complaints about apparently foul odors and rat infestations around the plant pending a court ruling on the company's challenge to the new code.
Zeftel said the odor code makes the regulation of businesses in the city "nothing more than a popularity contest" without any valid proof of wrongdoing by a business.
The code is targeted at Bakery Salvage and is "an improper attempt to zone Bakery Salvage out of existence," Zeftel said.
Henry E. Wyman, attorney for the homeowners, told the judge they wanted to intervene in the case because of a "peculiar provision" of the odor law that bars citizens from circulating petitions calling for the closing of a business more than once every five years.
Wyman said that provision is apparently designed to prevent harassment of businesses.
The homeowners will abide by Justice Wolfgang's ruling but were concerned that their months of efforts would be jeopardized by the law's statue of limitations provisions, Wyman said.