North English couple settles CAFO lawsuit

2018 lawsuit stemmed from odor, runoff concerns at large-scale hog operation

Liz Martin/The Gazette
Liz Martin/The Gazette

A North English couple has settled a 2018 lawsuit against owners of a confined animal feeding operation that was built across the road from the couple’s house in Iowa County.

The trial was scheduled to start Feb. 18 in Iowa County, but court filings show it was settled.

“The parties have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution,” said Steve Ballard, an Iowa City attorney representing Gary and Kathy Netser.

Ballard said he could not comment on the financial terms or whether operations at the animal confinement will change. Eldon McAfee, who represents the defendants, Carl Kelchen, Karen Kelchen, Bryon Kelchen, Carolyn Kelchen and Brenneman Pork LLP, also said he could not comment extensively about the deal.

The Netsers moved to the ranch house near North English in 2009 and later planned to start a greenhouse business there in retirement, according to their lawsuit. In October 2014, the Kelchens purchased land across S Avenue and built two CAFOs with combined capacity of 2,500 hogs, the lawsuit states.

“Since 2014, plaintiffs have endured nearly constant and unbearable odors, harmful substances, flies, noises, views, storm runoff, which potentially infiltrates their well and drinking water, as well as increased truck traffic resulting from the operation of the CAFOs,” the suit states.

The lawsuit asked for operation of the CAFOs to be halted or modified to abate the nuisances.

The defendants had argued the statute of limitations for the Netsers filing the complaints had expired. But 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns in a Jan. 23 order denied the motions for summary judgment on most counts.

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