OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lundy Kiger, R-Poteau, met with Cameron City Council members at their monthly meeting Monday, July 6, to discuss and update city leaders on the ongoing issues with new large poultry houses being developed close to their community. Kiger explained to members that he continues to get calls frequently on the eight large houses located on the west side of town close to the school and the Choctaw Housing Development.
Kiger said people living in this area are inside 1,500 feet from the poultry houses that are grandfathered in under new state setback rules, but on hot days when the wind blows out of the west to southeast residents cannot escape the terrible odor.
“This reduces the opportunity for people living close to the barns to use their backyards for any activities,” Kiger said. “This also causes harm to school events such as the last graduation.”
Kiger said he received calls related to the graduation and from those who were setting up for the event that the smell was terrible, and people couldn't hardly stand it.
Kiger said anyone in the community that is harmed by this nuisance has the legal right to file against the facility for damage.
“When odor, noise or pollution from these or any houses crosses over into a private yard or community, this is trespassing and opens up the facility for legal action,” he said.
Kiger also informed council members that the Choctaw Nation is getting close to a final decision to support a lawsuit against the eight houses and should make a decision within the next few weeks. A community group of nine people in Texas filed a lawsuit against the third largest poultry integrator in the nation and won a settlement of $9 million, he pointed out.
Kiger said legal action isn't the desire of anyone, but if the poultry integrator doesn't want to work with the communities or county on where they locate these facilities then it doesn't leave the public any choice but legal steps. Kiger told the group that the poultry industry in Leflore County produces hundreds of good-paying jobs with over $21 million in annual payroll and just under half a million dollars in property taxes.
“We value this industry, Kiger said, “but the new larger houses being developed will also bankrupt many of the small family farmers who also have bank loans. That will devastate many people and most of our banks.”
Kiger said he’s also received complaints about the other large poultry farm projects in the Cameron area, including the five built on Red Barn Road. There are 24 being developed on the west side of Castle Estates and 16 on the east side of Castle Estates, and similar lawsuits will likely be filed against those, he said.
Kiger asked the city if they wanted to join their citizens in taking legal steps to help protect their town and property values, and said City Council members said they would discuss it with their city attorney, Marc Bovos. One City Council member said the smell is terrible. Kiger said he would report back when the Choctaw Nation makes a final decision on joining in on the lawsuit.
Lundy Kiger represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.