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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Court Protects Cows in Nuisance Case

The Village of Chadwick is a small community that does not have a zoning or land use ordinance. Instead, the Village relies on its "nuisance" authority to regulate land uses. In July of 2016, the Village adopted an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to keep live cattle, horses, swine, pigs, sheep, goats, and various other farm animals on property in the Village limits. Shortly after adopting the ordinance, the Village issued a citation against the Nelsons for keeping cattle on their property. The circuit court upheld the citation, and the Nelsons appealed.

The Nelsons argued that the Village was preempted from enforcing the nuisance ordinance against them under the Farm Nuisance Act. That statute protects farm owners from nuisance suits after a farm has been in operation for a year. The Nelsons claimed that their property had been used for farm operations for over a year when the nuisance ordinance was adopted. As a result, the Nelsons argued that the Village could not enforce its nuisance ordinance against their property. The Village argued that the Nelsons' cattle operation had only been in operation for four months, so the nuisance ordinance was not preempted by the Act. 

The appellate court reversed the conviction on the basis that the Nelsons had been operating a farm on the property for more than a year. Although the cattle operation had only been ongoing for a few months, the Nelsons had been engaging in other farm activities prior to the cattle operations, including cutting and baling hay. As a result, the Act protected the Nelsons' farm operations, and the Village was precluded from enforcing its nuisance ordinance.  Village of Chadwick v. Nelson, 2017 IL App (2d) 170064.

Post authored by Julie Tappendorf


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