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Monday, March 2, 2015

Village's Ordinance Declaring all Commercial Farming a Nuisance Preempted by State Statute

The Village of LaFayette adopted an ordinance that declared commercial farming within the Village's boundaries to be a nuisance. Shortly after adopting the ordinance, the Village brought a code violation action against the Browns, the new owners of 57 acres of property on which they were operating a commercial farm.  6 acres of the farmland were located in LaFayette.   The Village alleged in its complaint that the commercial farming of the land was a nuisance, in violation of the new ordinance. 

The trial court granted the Village's request for an injunction against the Browns, ordering the Browns to stop engaging in commercial farming on their property in the Village. The court rejected the Browns' argument that farming is protected by the Farm Nuisance Suit Act, a state statute.

On appeal, the appellate court vacated the judgment against the Browns, holding that the Farm Nuisance Suit Act preempted the Village's ordinance.  Village of Fayetteville v. Brown, 2015 IL App (3d) 130445.  Specifically, that Act provides as follows:
No farm or any of its appurtenances shall be or become a private or public nuisance because of any changed circumstances in the surrounding area occurring after the farm has been in operation for more than one year, when such farm was not a nuisance at the time it began operation, provided that the provisions of this Section shall not apply whenever a nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any farm or its appurtenances.
The court noted that the purpose of the statute is to protect and preserve farming uses because "Illinois is an agricultural state."  Here, the land had been used for commercial farming for decades, and the use had not changed - only the ownership of the property - so the clear language of the statute protected the commercial farming use.  In short, the Village's nuisance ordinance was preempted by state statute, and cannot be enforced against the Browns. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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