Aldrige Enterprises

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2012

Chris Aldridge (right) faced an unhappy land commission, complaining neighbors and eventually a lawsuit when he opened his scrap metal business west of Batesville in 2006. This week he returned before the commission, without incident, to renew his permit. Aldridge Enterprises employees (from left) Gerald Austin and Glenn Biggers accompany the business owner during a morning of work this week. The Panolian photo by Billy Davis

Outcome better for business five years later

By Billy Davis

A scrap yard west of Batesville that opened amid controversy in 2006 breezed through a reapplication process Monday night in Sardis.

The county land commission voted unanimously to allow Chris Aldridge of Batesville to continue operating his business at 5884 Chapel Town Road.

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Aldridge, 39, was returning after five years had run out on his 2007 special exception permit for Aldridge Enterprises.

“I can’t believe it’s been five years already,” commented Danny Walker, the commission’s chairman.

The county land commission granted Aldridge 10 years on the new permit at the request of his attorney, Larry Lewis, of Marks.

It’s been an up-and-down ride for Aldridge and his business. The same land commission turned down Aldridge’s permit request in 2006, when he came unprepared to describe his plans for a scrap metal yard while 11 others spoke in opposition.

Supervisors overruled the land commission and approved the permit, then neighboring property owner Lent Thomas Sr. sued to stop it.

In November 2007, a circuit court judge ordered the business shut down until Aldridge could get proper zoning for the property. Aldridge went before the land commission the following month with family, supportive neighbors and an attorney, and that time the land commission gave its unanimous approval.

The scrap metal business, located near Highway 6 West, was rezoned for industrial use then Aldridge was given a five-year permit to operate his business.

At the same time the business owner’s wife, Michelle, wrote a letter to the editor in The Panolian that described how her husband had sought scrap metal to resell before he bought the Chapel Town site.

“Chris always told me that one day he would have his own place, and the junk would come to him instead of the other way around,” she wrote in the letter that was published November 9, 2007.

Aldridge, reached at his business this week, said he endured tough times when he tried to open for business after investing thousands of dollars to weigh and haul away copper, aluminum and steel.

“My dad told me at the time, ‘Right will follow right and wrong will follow wrong.’ I just kept believing that,” said the son.  

Aldridge Enterprises, surrounded by farmland, is located near North Delta just outside Batesville. The business employs two full-time employees in addition to Aldridge.

The Batesville scrap yard competes with Martin Bros. in Sardis, and Aldridge said he strives to be a customer-friendly alternative to the larger operation in the county.

 “I appreciate the customers bringing the scrap to me. I appreciate their support,” said Aldridge, recalling that he hasn’t forgotten that he started his business as a teenager hauling metal for cash.  

Lent Thomas’s son, John Thomas, presently a first-term supervisor, said Monday night he has no problem with Aldridge Enterprises, which is surrounded by his family’s farmland.

“He’s been a good neighbor,” said Thomas, who also lives on Chapel Town Road.

“I looked at his site,” commissioner Bob Haltom told his colleagues. “It’s the cleanest looking thing on that road.”

Commissioners also noted that, unlike Aldridge, few business owners return to the land commission after their permits expire.