Second challenge to Delta chicken farms

Opponents of two controversial egg-laying operations in Delta County — one operating, one planned — were dealt a blow last year when county commissioners upheld their approvals of the farms over a chorus of opposition from a segment of residents.

The same group of people lining up against the farms is continuing its court fight, though, as it recently filed an opening brief in a fresh legal case and challenged key evidence that commissioners used to approve the farms for a second time in October last year.

Neighbors like veterinarian Susan Raymond have reported a variety of health-related ailments since the first egg-laying farm began operating on Powell Mesa in 2012. The new court documents detail many of the complaints: new allergies and rhinitis; conjunctivitis that flares in close proximity to the farm; inflammation of asthma; increased ear, nose, throat and eye irritations; and difficulty breathing.

Neighbors attribute those symptoms to the dust, dander and mold from the poultry operations.

The county commissioned its own air quality study, which is one of the pieces of evidence opponents hope to strike from the record in a motion recently filed in Delta County District Court. County commissioners said they leaned heavily on the results of the air-quality studies in their decision to approve the farms.

Opponents have a host of questions about the content of the two studies commissioned to determine the health effects of the new farm, which is operated by the family of Edwin Hostetler, and how the evidence was presented in the case.

“(Delta County) manufactured its own evidence to support the applicants, did not give the neighbors notice of this, and based its decision on evidence the county obtained after (a Sept. 4 public hearing) was closed,” part of their brief reads.

Last year, commissioners were compelled to re-analyze their decision to approve the farms when District Judge Steven Patrick remanded their decision back to them based on opponents’ concerns. The farms’ opponents contend commissioners disregarded much of the opponents’ information that was presented before approving the farms for the second time, and were selective about what information they relied on in making their second decision.

The new legal documents were filed in Patrick’s division this time as well, and the opponent group hopes he sympathizes with their complaints once again.

“We want him to shut (the Hostetler farm on Powell Mesa) down. It’s filthy, it’s polluting my property,” Raymond said,

Many of the documents in the case, along with videos of the farm allegedly emitting large amounts of pollution, can be found on the grassroots group’s website —


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