Originally created 12/02/99

Nuisance lawsuit resolved



AIKEN -- Two brothers have settled a nuisance lawsuit that claimed Aiken County and Poultry Power Brands Inc. devalued their property by operating a foul-smelling composting facility next door.

Wayland Lamar and Robert Lamar, both of Augusta, agreed to the undisclosed settlement just two weeks before the lawsuit was scheduled for trial.

"The settlement was for a fraction of what they were originally seeking," said attorney Rob Braithwaite, who represented the county and Poultry Power Brands. "The cost of the defense of the lawsuit was very much a factor in getting this lawsuit settled."

The Lamar brothers own 92 acres off Atomic Road in Aiken County, and they had started to develop it after a recent increase in the demand for housing. According to the suit, the brothers stopped developing the property after getting wind of a problem -- a new composting operation on the site of Horse Creek Pollution Control Facility was stinking up the neighborhood.

In 1995, Aiken County and its public service authority signed a contract with Poultry Power to build and operate a composting facility that mixed human sewage waste with chicken manure, the suit stated. The brothers claimed the facility devalued their land because it "produces extremely offensive odors, loud industrial machinery noise and large truck traffic in a formerly remote and quiet country setting."

Mr. Braithwaite said he disagreed with some of the factual allegations in the suit, including the statement that the land once was a quiet country setting. He said the land is off Atomic Road, a highly-traveled thoroughfare.

The land is across from a subdivision on Toole Road, which has about 35 homes, Wayland Lamar said Wednesday in a telephone conversation.

"So we felt this land would be something someone would be willing to buy," he said. "We were about to get sales promotions going when we found out about the plant being so close to the property line."

Mr. Lamar said the plant is expected to take steps to cut down on the foul smell. That would open the possibility of developing the land, but no decision has been made, he said.

"We hope that they will continue to improve the process to reduce odors in the future," he said.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (803) 279-6895.