Lawsuit targets Parker chicken farm
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Opponents: Farm owner helped write zoning rules
Katie Overvaag (left to right), Sandy Thompson and Veronica Shukla walk along the Big Sioux River to protest against proposals that would lower the number of zoning board votes needed to approve a conditional use permit, to penalize citizens who appeal zoning decisions, and to allow non-family farm corporations to establish hog farms. (Photo: , Jay Pickthorn – Argus Leader)Buy Photo
A group of Turner County homeowners is suing the county commission and the owners of a proposed chicken farm in hopes of putting a stop to the $85 million development.
Opponents say the commission used a fax from the farm’s owner to re-write the county’s zoning ordinance at the last minute and without public input, in a way that made it possible to site the six million-hen operation less than three miles from Parker city limits.
Michael Schaffer, who represents three couples opposed to the Sonstegard Foods facility, says the county’s rewrite was done without proper public notice or input.
His lawsuit asks a judge to declare the ordinance null and void, which he says would nullify any building permit the county issues.
"They could have done this right," Schaffer said. "They didn’t do it right. Now they’re taking a huge gamble if they look at approving this thing."
The county’s lawyer, Turner County State’s Attorney Matt Olson, says the commission didn’t break any rules.
State law was followed in the 2014 zoning ordinance…