S.323 and H.3653 remove the rights of neighboring landowners to take action to ensure the safe and healthy enjoyment of their property. These bills provide industry a blanket immunity from noise and odor impacts to nearby properties (these, among others, are called nuisance complaints). If this bill passes, citizens will not be able to take action to protect their property from nuisance issues.
Supporters of these bills argue that the bills are intended to prevent an existing industry from being sued if a nearby property is sold and a new resident moves in.
These bills, however, goes much farther – they provide complete immunity for any nuisance complaints, even if an industry significantly expands or changes operations. What might not have started as a nuisance can quickly become one if smells, sounds, or other property impacts increase significantly because of an expansion or process change. These issues should be carefully debated and discussed within communities, but, in contrast, these bills give the expanding industry blanket immunity and a “free pass” to ignore impacts on its neighbors.
Supporters also say that industries must comply with environmental permits to receive the blanket immunity. However, noise, odor, and other nuisance issues are not addressed in environmental permits. Typically, permits only cover impacts to air and water quality according to measureable standards.
Finally, these bills also prevent local governments from establishing policies to address potential conflicts where industrial and non-industrial areas intersect. If passed, existing policies like tree buffers, setback rules, and other efforts to reduce the likelihood of nuisance complaints between neighbors would be eliminated and prohibited.
Existing nuisance law is well established and balances the rights of property owners and industry. Industrial agriculture is already protected under the Right to Farm Act. There is already an established process for addressing disputes that arise between industries and their neighbors. The current system is not broken, is not being abused, and should be maintained.
Status: Both bills are now in the Senate after H.3653 passed out of the House.
Please ask your Senator to OPPOSE H.3653 and S.323