The defendant lawfully maintains feedlots in an area outside of Phoenix. Upon the development of a residential community nearby, the feedlots, albeit still lawful, became a nuisance to the new population in the area.
When a lawful business becomes a nuisance due to the encroachment of a residential development, that lawful business can be enjoined, but may be owed damages in the form of indemnification.
The area in dispute is located 15 miles outside of Phoenix, and has been used for farming, particularly cattle feeding, since 1911. By 1959, about 8,000 cattle were being fed across 35 acres of land. The defendant purchased these feedlots in 1960 and began expanding to 114 acres by 1962. In 1959, the plaintiff began to build a housing development called Sun City, acquiring 20,000 acres of land near the cattle feedlots. The plaintiff claims that the defendant’s feedlots are a public nuisance due to the flies it attracts and the odors drifting with the wind. The feedlots were producing 35 to 45 pounds of wet manure per day, and the resulting bugs and odor were unhealthy for the nearby residents, despite the defendant’s good housekeeping and maintenance.
(1) Can the legal feedlot that has become a nuisance due to the development of a nearby residential area be enjoined in an action brought by the developer?
(2) If the feedlot can be enjoined, can the developer of a new town in a previously urban area be required to indemnify the operator of the feedlot who must move or cease operation due to the new residential area?
(1) Yes. The court properly enjoined the defendant on claims of nuisance. The judgement of the trial court is affirmed.
(2) Yes. The case is remanded to trial court for a hearing regarding the damages suffered by the defendant.
In regards to the question of enjoinment, it is clear that the citizens of Sun City were unable to enjoy their homes due to the nuisance created by the defendant’s feedlots. The plaintiff showed a special injury—the loss of sales—and thus had standing to bring the suit. That being said, the defendant is a lawful business made into a nuisance by the encroachment of a residential neighborhood. There was no indication when the defendant expanded its feedlots that a residential city would pop up nearby. The defendant is required to move for the benefit of the public, but that does not mean that the plaintiff is free of any liability to the defendant. Therefore, the plaintiff is required to indemnify the defendant for the reasonable cost of moving its business or shutting down.