Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Co., 56112

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHeard before MOORE; UHLENHOPP
Citation214 N.W.2d 126
PartiesClark HELMKAMP et al., Appellants, v. CLARK READY MIX COMPANY, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 56112,56112
Decision Date16 January 1974

Page 126

214 N.W.2d 126
82 A.L.R.3d 997
Clark HELMKAMP et al., Appellants,
No. 56112.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Jan. 16, 1974.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 14, 1974.

Page 127

Edward S. White, Carroll, for appellants.

Minnich & Neu, Carroll, for appellee.

Heard before MOORE, C.J., and MASON, REES, UHLENHOPP and HARRIS, JJ.


The question in this appeal is whether we should enjoin as a nuisance the operation of the cement ready-mix plant of defendant Clark Ready Mix Company in Carroll County, Iowa. We hear

Page 128

the appeal de novo. We give weight to the trial court's fact findings but are not bound by them. Schlotfelt v. Vinton Farmers' Supply Co., 252 Iowa 1102, 109 N.W.2d 695.

United States Highway 71, which carries substantial traffic, runs north and south along the west side of Carroll, Iowa. In 1959, owners of land in the northwest part of Carroll platted Thomas Addition on the east side of the highway. Residential restrictions apply in the addition, except for two lots adjoining the highway which are zoned commercial. At time of trial in October 1972, the respective plaintiffs had owned and lived in homes in the addition for periods ranging from three to nine years. The homes vary in value for tax purposes from $17,0000 to $32,000.

In 1970 defendant bought a parcel of land on the west side of the highway across from Thomas Addition. In 1971 defendant operated a pug mill there and later a portable cement plant, but discontinued those operations. In 1972 it built and began operating a cement ready-mix plant with a silo, bins for storing sand, gravel, and crushed limestone, a diesel-powered front-end loader to transport this aggregate, and driveways for trucks. The house of plaintiffs Rose is 372 feet from the plant. The other houses are at varying greater distances. A supermarket occupies part of the space between plaintiffs' houses and the cement plant, and part of the space is open.

Tank trucks deliver portland cement to the plant. Air compressors on the trucks blow the cement through six-inch pipes into two elevated compartments in the silo. The silo has a vent for the escape of the air. Since the air and cement come into the compartments under pressure, the pressure must be dissipated in some way or cement would blow out through the vent. This is done by a Thurman bag filter consisting of a series of 16 vibrating canvas bags through which the air passes. The theory is that practically all of the cement dust will be caught in the bags. In practice however, considerable dust escapes through the vent into the atmosphere. When the wind is in the west, the dust blows onto plaintiffs' properties, lighting on their lawns and plantings, outdoor furniture, and clothes lines. It also penetrates their houses and gathers on sills, furniture, carpets, and drapes.

Other trucks bring aggregate to the site and dump it. The diesel loader, with throttle advanced, drives its scoop into the aggregate, which it then transports to a conveyer that elevates the aggregate into a hopper in the plant proper. The 'bucking' of the loader into the piles of aggregate is very noisy from the engine itself and from the scraping scoop, and the diesel engine emits smoke. A witness testified, 'This front-end loader backs up and goes ahead, runs into a pile of rock and sand and they goose it a few times and it makes it snort, shift gears and backs up and goes ahead, dumps it; backs up, goes into the pile.' The dumping of aggregate also creates noise, and the movement of trucks raises additional dust.

Residue concrete which hardens in the ready-mix trucks must be removed. Employees use jackhammers and chipping hammers to do this, creating very loud noises which disturb plaintiffs. Frequently this is done early in the morning and in the evening. Although perhaps not as severe or as frequent, the annoyances suffered by plaintiffs here are generally the same as in Bates v. Quality Ready-Mix Co., 261 Iowa 696, 154 N.W.2d 852.

The trial court enjoined defendant from bringing on the premises and from operating an asphaltic or portland cement plant such as defendant previously had, but dismissed plaintiffs' request for injunction as to the present ready-mix plant. The court intimated that it would have granted damages to plaintiffs had they asked therefor--from which we infer that the court thought a nuisance existed but not one

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which warranted an injunction. Plaintiffs appealed.

The appeal presents two questions. Does a nuisance exist? If so, should we enjoin operation of the plant?

I. A Nuisance...

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14 cases
  • Williams Pipe Line Co. v. Bayer Corp., Civil No. 4-95-CV-20158.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • 14 Abril 1997
    ...in the case of a permanent nuisance, including relief relating to the manner of operating a facility. Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Co., 214 N.W.2d 126, 130 (Iowa a. Diminution of Market Value Williams' valuation expert, James Hayes, Jr., testified that in his opinion the diminution in market......
  • Page County Appliance Center, Inc. v. Honeywell, Inc., 83-182
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 14 Marzo 1984
    ...of considerable weight. Stockdale v. Agrico Chemical Co., 340 F.Supp. 244, 252 (N.D.Iowa 1972); Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Co., 214 N.W.2d 126, 129 (Iowa 1974); Kriener v. Turkey Valley Community School District, 212 N.W.2d 526, 530 (Iowa When the alleged nuisance is claimed to be offensiv......
  • Johnson v. Board of Adjustment, City of West Des Moines, 2-57317
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 17 Marzo 1976
    ...issue is again one of fact, even under the 'commercial nuisance' test espoused by plaintiffs. See Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Company, 214 N.W.2d 126, 129 (Iowa 1974), and citations. Thus, as heretofore explained, we may reverse only if trial court's determination lacks substantial evidenti......
  • Doe v. Ray, 2-59856
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 16 Marzo 1977
    ...Rule 344(f)(7), R.C.P; White v. Board of Review of Polk County, Iowa, 244 N.W.2d 765, 772; Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Company, Iowa, 214 N.W.2d 126, II. The first of plaintiffs' three propositions raised for reversal asserts the trial court erred when it failed to find implementation of 66......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The Perils and Promise of Public Nuisance.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 132 Nbr. 3, January 2023
    • 1 Enero 2023
    ...be a public nuisance); City of Chicago v. Festival Theatre Corp., 438 N.E.2d 159,162 (111. 1982) (same); Helmkamp v. Clark Ready Mix Co., 214 N.W.2d 126, 129 (Iowa 1974) (226.) See, e.g., Jerry Harmon Motors, Inc. v. Farmers Union Grain Terminal Ass'n, 337 N.W.2d 427, 432 (N.D. 1983) (holdi......

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