- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

PARKER, S.D. (AP) - Landowners concerned about possible problems from a large egg-laying operation planned near Parker are suing its developers and Turner County, hoping to block the project.

Sioux Falls-based Sonstegard Foods plans to put 6 million birds on a farm 2½ miles from Parker. Opponents believe that’s too close and will create problems such as odor. They also contend the County Commission approved new zoning regulations to allow for the chicken operation without proper public notice or input, and they’re asking a judge to reject the new rules.

“They could have done this right,” said attorney Michael Schaffer, who filed the lawsuit this week on behalf of three couples who live near the proposed facility. “They didn’t do it right. Now they (county officials) are taking a huge gamble if they look at approving this thing.”

County State’s Attorney Matt Olson said the commission followed state law and did nothing wrong.

“There’s reason to doubt the veracity of these claims,” he said.

Sonstegard Foods issued a statement saying officials “are reviewing the matter and look forward to addressing all issues in the legal proceedings.”

About 1,200 people live within a 3-mile radius of the proposed Sonstegard site, according to opponents.

“The difference between a farm and a factory is this - the farm does not create a nuisance for miles around or present significant risks to human health,” opponent Katie Overvaag said.

Company officials have said they’re designing a facility to minimize odor, and that it will create more than 150 jobs.

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