COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lawmakers in South Carolina want to protect manufacturers from “nuisance lawsuits” by neighbors upset with the practices of nearby businesses.

The Senate on Thursday approved a measure to protect the companies from nuisance lawsuits, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported. The measure goes back to the House, which will consider changes the Senate made in the bill.

The measure would protect existing companies from lawsuits when subdivisions locate around the plants.

The bill says industrial plants cannot be deemed a nuisance if their licenses and permits are current and they’re complying with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.

If “somebody moves in beside them, that person can’t sue them and say, ‘We don’t like the noise in your facility, or we don’t like the odor,’ when they’ve moved next door,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey from Edgefield. “This gives protection to long-established manufacturers. A Lot of these facilities locate in rural areas so they’re not disturbing people, and people have come up around them.”

The protections would include expansions or renovations of existing plants, even if a new owner purchased them, as long as the projects are “reasonable.” Reasonable changes are those that do not substantially affect nearby landowners.

Opponents worry the bill would limit homeowners’ rights.

“It’s a bad idea to take property rights away from homeowners, and the right to enjoy your property without a nuisance is an ancient, fundamental right,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat.

Massey said the Volvo plant under construction in a rural area of Berkeley County is a good example of a company that could need the law, although he says the Swedish vehicle manufacturer did not push for the legislation.

“Right now, it’s in the middle of a very rural area, but you know there’s population growth coming up,” Massey said. He said it would be unfair to the company if new construction brought residents who might try to sue because of noise from the plant.

Information from: The Post and Courier,