The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a district court ruling against Kossuth County residents who sought to block the construction of a hog confinement operation in their neighborhood. General Development received permits from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in 2003 to construct two hog confinement feeding operations in Sherman Township in Kossuth County southeast of Algona.
Plans for one of the facilities were later dropped, but the developer said he planned to move ahead with one operation that would house 10,900 pigs and spread approximately five million gallons of manure a year on nearby farmland. Several neighbors of the proposed facilities filed suit.
The district court agreed to hear the part of the suit that involving "anticipatory nuisance," that is resident’s concerns that the construction of the plant might lead to health and environmental concerns, and lower property values. After hearing from experts on both sides, the district court found the neighbors failed to meet their burden of proof that the facility would be a nuisance.
The Iowa Supreme Court in upholding the ruling said the neighbors’ experts raised legitimate concerns regarding the operation however, those experts conceded they could not be certain a nuisance will necessarily result if General Development is allowed to proceed with the hog operation.
The High Court said while the neighbors’ attorney argued the defense experts were biased toward the hog industry, the district court found those experts credible, at least to the extent their testimony cast doubt on whether the operation would cause a nuisance.
In summary, the Supreme Court said while , hog confinement operations have become more controversial as they grow in number and size, their task was narrow in trying to determine whether the neighbors have proven the confinement would be a nuisance. The justices agreed with the district court they have not.
See the text of the Supreme Court ruling in the link below.