Pleasant Plain Lawsuit Settles
After a long and protracted legal battle, we are pleased to report that the Pleasant Plain lawsuit settled on March 5, 2010. The case was scheduled to go to trial on March 26th.
The Pleasant Plain Property Owners Association (PPPOA) representing 26 home owners, sued James Kaska and JL Pork, Inc. for building and operating a 1200-head hog confinement (CAFO) close to their homes. All the plaintiffs lived within a 1½-mile radius of the CAFO.
Although the actual settlement terms are confidential, JFAN understands that the plaintiffs in the case consider the settlement to be a very satisfactory outcome , beneficial to both the plaintiffs personally and the community at-large.
The lawsuit was a long and costly process for all parties. JFAN provided the PPPOA and the individual plaintiffs with substantial financial assistance grants to help cover legal expenses.
The Parrish Kruidenier Firm, a well-known Des Moines law firm with a proven track record in litigation, along with Fairfield attorney David Sykes, represented the PPPOA.
The Pleasant Plain lawsuit was filed about four years ago after Mr. Kaska and JL Pork constructed the 1200-head CAFO. The CAFO is located near Pleasant Plain Road and 167th Street, about three miles north of Fairfield.
Prior to construction of the CAFO, several neighbors met with Mr. Kaska, requesting that he not build the CAFO at the proposed location, as it would diminish their quality of life and peaceful enjoyment. JFAN provided educational support to the neighbors during this period. Several attempts to resolve the matter without litigation failed, and the CAFO was constructed. The lawsuit was filed on May 19, 2006.
The lawsuit charged that the massive amounts of animal waste generated by the facility harmed the health, safety, and quality of life of the plaintiffs, the public and the environment. It alleged there was a significant risk of groundwater contamination from the CAFO and the spreading of liquid manure.
The plaintiffs further asserted that the noxious chemicals created by the untreated liquid manure, unhealthy and unpleasant odor and harmful airborne particulates emanating from the facility constituted a nuisance and threatened the quiet enjoyment of their homes and land.
Additionally, the lawsuit contended that the facility reduced the property values of the 14 homes owned by the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs requested to be reasonably and justly compensated for the nuisance.
The trial was originally scheduled for March 2009 in Jefferson County, but was postponed several times. Ultimately, the venue was changed from Jefferson County to Washington County.
JFAN is pleased to have been able to support the plaintiffs and to help in effectuating a positive result in the fight against the proliferation of CAFO's, and their harmful side effects, in Jefferson County.
JFAN would like to express its appreciation to all its supporters who have made it possible for the residents of Jefferson County to continue to enjoy fresh and healthy air and clean water.
Background Information on Pleasant Plain vs. Kaska Lawsuit
After two years of pre trial activities, a lawsuit brought against James Kaska and JL Pork, Inc. by the Pleasant Plain Property Owners Association is getting ready to go to court in the late March 2010.
Twenty-five people are suing Mr. Kaska and his company JL Pork for building and operating a hog confinement facility close to their homes. The confinement is located near Pleasant Plain Road and 167th Street, three miles north of Fairfield. All those represented live adjacent to or within a 1/2 mile to 1 ½-mile radius of the CAFO.
The lawsuit is has been rescheduled from March 16, 2009 to the above date. We will provide updates when information becomes available.
Prior to the lawsuit, it is understood that several neighbors met with Mr. Kaska asking him to not build the CAFO near their homes and to explore other possibilities in an attempt to resolve the matter before the facility was constructed. A lawsuit was filed on May 19, 2006 when all attempts at resolution failed.
The lawsuit asserts that the 1200-head facility generates massive amounts of animal waste that harm the health, safety, and quality of life of the plaintiffs, the public, and the environment.
Plaintiffs also charge that the foul, unhealthy odor with its harmful airborne particulates emanating from the facility constitutes a nuisance and threatens the quiet enjoyment of their homes and land.
In addition, the lawsuit contends that the facility has reduced property values of the 14 homes owned by the families named in the Association.
The plaintiffs are requesting full and fair compensation as well as attempting to shut down the facility on a permanent basis.
Click here for background on the Pleasant Plain Case.
There has not been any further activity on the 2400-head CAFO that Jefferson County farmer Tony Adrian was planning in northern Jefferson County. The confinement would affect 18 families in the neighborhood. The facility would be located in Section 19 of Penn Township, eight miles north of Fairfield and one mile east of Route 1.
Mr. Adrian, who is partnering with Tri-Oaks, has met with several neighbors, many of whom have expressed strong opposition to the CAFO. Mr. Adrian’s home is in the vicinity of the proposed facility, but a number of neighbors live closer to the proposed confinement than Adrian.
It is reported that Adrian reviewed three potential sites for his CAFO, including the property where his home is located. He has not divulged his third site.
A group of neighbors have organized to oppose the CAFO and met with JFAN and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) in February to explore their options. The neighborhood group is considering action to deter construction, including legal action.
Since the CAFO will contain no more than 2400 pigs, it does not have to meet the Master Matrix and is not subject to a public hearing. It does need to submit a manure management plan for state approval.
Although Mr. Adrian is from a multi-generational farming family, this is his first confinement operation. He has indicated that if this operation is successful, he may construct additional facilities.
JFAN will keep the community updated with new developments on this CAFO.
Dick Simmons Case
Shortly before it was to go to trial in October 2007, the Simmons family lawsuit was settled out of court.
Former Jefferson County supervisor Dick Simmons and his son Tim Simmons, sued CAFO operator Robert Deutsch who located a 1200 head CAFO in close proximity to their two homes. The CAFOwas built while Tim was in the Armed Forces and stationed in Iraq. The lawsuit sought compensation for damages caused by the operation of the CAFO.
While the terms are confidential, we understand the Simmons were satisfied with the settlement.
JFAN provided a financial assistance grant to the Simmons family for their lawsuit. Mr. Simmons acknowledged his deep appreciation for the support JFAN provided.
A CAFO is being constructed on the Hixon/Knutdsen property in the northeast part of Jefferson County. The factory farm is located in a fairly unpopulated sector. JFAN sent letters to neighbors with an alert about the CAFO. One neighbor expressed concerns, but no action was pursued. No hearings were held in Jefferson County.
During the Summer 2007, JFAN helped to alert the community about a proposed facility expansion by the Elmore and Hellweg families in the northeast corner of Jefferson County near Pleasant Plain. The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing with two thirds of the comments critical of the 2400-head facility.
As a result of these comments and the Matrix process, several positive changes were made, including an adjustment to the set back distance of the CAFO. Unlike some projects that meet the minimum required scores for the Matrix, the Elmore/ Hellweg families adjusted their plans so that they scored well above the minimums. The expansion was completed.
The DNR denied a 4300-head CAFO in Farson in 2006 because of its close proximity to a floodplain, waterways and highly erodible land. This was the second time the DNR has ever denied a permit. Read the full story here.
A proposed 5900 head facility was permanently stalled in 2006. The CAFO would have produced six million gallons of manure a year.
JFAN provided a financial assistance grant to a coalition of Batavia homeowners and farmers. The proposed CAFO was close to Jefferson County and may have affected its waterways, especially Cedar Creek.
Pleasant Plain Road
After lengthy discussions with neighbors, landowners who planned to build a CAFO on Pleasant Plain Road across from Cambridge Investment Research decided not to build.
Six 4800-head factory farms are being constructed near Martinsburg in Keokuk County, just over the Jefferson County border.