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COA: Business is a nuisance to homeowners

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Despite modifications to a mycelium-drying business located adjacent to a farmhouse, the business is still a nuisance that deprives the homeowners from the free use and enjoyment of their property, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The appellate court reversed the Wabash Circuit Court's decision, which found that because Ted Parker had made modifications to his business, homeowners Randall Bonewitz and Russell Dellinger weren't entitled to a permanent injunction against the business. Bonewitz and Dellinger purchased the farmhouse from Parker in 1997; after the sale, Parker still owned the adjacent land and used it for farming hay. In 2003, he started a business that dries wet mycelium - a byproduct of the manufacture of food-grade citric acid - to sell for use in animal feed. The furnace is about 150 feet from the home and Parker received the proper permits to rezone his land from agricultural use to business/commercial use.

In 2007, the homeowners filed suit alleging the business is a nuisance because of the foul smells omitted, dust in the air, and constant trucking in of sawdust, which fuels the dryer for the mycelium. They sought a permanent injunction or damages. The trial court declined to enter a total preliminary injunction or damages, but ordered Parker be permanently enjoined from unloading sawdust outside the pole building.

In Bonewitz and Dellinger v. Parker, No. 85A04-0901-CV-16, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court's decision that the effect on Bonewitz and Dellinger's home has been "greatly reduced" by Parker's efforts to mitigate truck noise, dust, and vibrations from his business. The undisputed evidence shows they continue to live with a stench that permeates the house, they can't use their yard, or open their windows, wrote Judge Edward Najam.

"Those infringements are not occasional or incidental, and they are more than an annoyance or inconvenience. While the nuisance may have been partially ameliorated, it has not been abated," he wrote.

Parker's argument that the pair bought the home knowing they were in an agriculturally zoned area and they can't complain about the discomfort based on agricultural uses failed because Parker's company isn't agricultural; it's a business that required rezoning. The issue is the magnitude of the business and Parker even admitted only 10 percent of his production is for his own use, wrote the judge.

Instead of ordering permanent injunctive relief, which would probably destroy Parker's business, the Court of Appeals remanded to the trial court to determine if the homeowners can be made whole with a monetary judgment. If so, then it should consider the evidence of their damages, including damages for discomfort and annoyance, when coming up with an amount.

If the trial court determines Bonewitz and Dellinger can't be made whole with a money judgment, then the court shall issue the total, permanent injunction against Parker's business.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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