Federal IDP Suit Against Sibley Dismissed

Sibley, Iowa — The saga continues in the feud over noxious odors allegedly emitted from a plant in the town of Sibley. The latest is that a lawsuit claiming the City of Sibley was unfair in its enforcement efforts has been dismissed.

The problem dates back over three years, with Sibley City officials accusing Iowa Drying and Processing, or IDP, along with its parent company ChemSol, of emitting noxious orders from their processing plant, which is located in the center of Sibley.

In April of 2016, the Sibley City Council held a public hearing into the matter and gave IDP a list of options for mitigating what the City called, “the nuisance odor.”

Each side then sued the other in mid-2016, with both suits being dropped in June of 2017.

In 2018 IDP and ChemSol filed suit in federal court against the City of Sibley, for what the lawsuit called the City’s “arbitrary, capricious, and irrational method of enforcing the odor ordinance.” IDP contended that Sibley’s Nuisance Odor ordinance allows arbitrary standards as to what constitutes a noxious odor.

The City of Sibley asked for summary judgment, and it was recently granted.

Federal judge Leonard T. Strand says in his judgment that Sibley was not unfairly enforcing the law, writing, “… the ordinance is a valid exercise of Sibley’s police powers, authorized by Iowa law, and constitutionally permissible. The tort of interference with expected business advantage requires that the defendant act ‘improperly.’ Sibley did not take any actions with respect to enforcing the ordinance that were not authorized by law.”

Sibley City Administrator Glenn Anderson says that the City hopes this is the end of the situation, but says that IDP has until July 5th, 2019 to file an appeal. He confirms that IDP has paid all of the past fines that they owed. He says that while there is still occasionally an issue, the City has not recently received a number of complaints from the residents, so the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office “has not been called out to investigate a smell issue in a few months. And so no fines have been issued.”

Anderson indicates that city officials have spoken to IDP’s representative and mentioned that if IDP would like to improve the facility, that would directly result in the property’s value going up from assessments from the County Assessor. He says that they told IDP that the City would entertain the possibility of working on a tax increment financing agreement with IDP.

He tells us that the City is very open to improved relations and very willing to welcome IDP into the business community as a positive contributor. He says the City would welcome them to “join them in making Sibley a great place to live and raise a family.”

Click here for the court document.


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