Leahys drop lawsuit against Heartland
FAIRFIELD — The Leahy family of Fairfield has decided to drop the lawsuit it filed against Heartland Co-op in April.
According to the family’s attorney, David Sykes of Fairfield, the decision was made last week after it became apparent Heartland was not going to stop its construction of a grain elevator east of Fairfield.
The Leahy family, which owns Overland Sheepskin Company and Blue Fish clothing store in Fairfield, also owns 80 acres near the intersection of Nutmeg Avenue and Highway 34, where Heartland is planning to build a grain elevator. Sykes said the family has attempted to convince Heartland to relocate its elevator. However, he said the state of construction on the site is far enough along that the Leahys realize that stopping it is hopeless.
“There was hope in the early days that Heartland would stop and that they would relocate,” Sykes said. “It’s become clear that they’re not receptive to it. Just looking at the construction site, we can see they’re serious about moving forward. The dismissal of the case should not be construed as us giving up. We’re simply coming to the recognition that they’re not going to stop the building or move to another location. We’re going to say, ‘Alright, let’s wait and see if it’s a nuisance.’”
Today, dump trucks hauling rock could be seen entering the construction site, where other heavy machines were moving dirt.
Sykes said the withdrawal of the lawsuit does not mean the Leahys have ended all legal proceedings in the case. What it does mean is the family has shifted its focus from stopping the grain elevator’s construction to assessing its effects after it’s built. If the grain elevator produces the kind of nuisances the family members fear, they could file another lawsuit requesting compensation for damages.
“We’re taking a step back to see what happens,” he said. “Heartland has said it will not be a nuisance. They said there would be no dust problems or other serious issues. At this point, we’re going to wait and see what the actual facts are once it is operational.”
Sykes said he hopes the grain elevator is quiet and that it does not create a dust nuisance, although he fears that is likely.
Des Moines attorney Michael W. Thrall, representing Heartland Co-op, could not be reached for comment at press time.