Crawford County Circuit Court Judge James Czajkowski has ordered the Town of Bridgeport to conduct a hearing as requested by the plaintiffs in a case seeking to void the conditional use permit issued by the town for a frac sand mine.
Crawford Stewardship Project and township landowners Arnold Steele, Mark Fishler, Loren Fishler, and Dan Linder are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to void the conditional use permit, which allows the frac sand mine to operate in Bridgeport Township. The case was scheduled to be heard on Thursday, Jan. 30.
The mine operator, Pattison Sand Company, filed a motion to intervene as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. Parties may request the court allow them to join the litigation to which they are not a party, if a particular case may affect their rights.
In response to Pattison Sand Company’s request a hearing conference was held on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Judge Czajkowski chose to send the case back to the Town of Bridgeport Board with instructions that they hold the hearing the plaintiffs had requested. The case remains under the court’s jurisdiction, which allows the plaintiffs to request a review of the board’s decision in the new hearing.
“While the case is no longer in front of the court, Crawford Stewardship Project had agreed that Pattison Sand Company should be allowed to join to defendants in the court hearing,” said Marcel Oliveira, the Reynolds & Associates attorney representing the plaintiffs.
The township board will hear new evidence from the plaintiffs, according to Oliveira. He stressed that the new hearing was specifically being held for the plaintiffs. The possible participation by Pattison Sand Company representatives in the new hearing is unknown at this time.
Meanwhile, frac sand mining operations at the Town of Bridgeport site have already begun, according to Pattison Sand Company officials.
“We have taken some sand out, weather permitting,” confirmed Pattison spokesperson Beth Regan. She said that it could not yet be predicted when the mine would actually begin full production.
“Pending legal matters, we can’t comment at this time,” Regan said in to response to questions about the level of production, the number of jobs the frac sand mine has produced or any details relating to the company’s filed motion in the lawsuit.
The hearing date for another lawsuit involving Pattison Sand Company has been set. Pattison Sand Company filed a civil lawsuit against the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board on September 20, 2013 that challenged the Riverway Board’s decision to deny a mining permit for portions of the Bridgeport Township mine that fell inside of the boundary for the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. The date for that hearing has been set for Thursday, March 20 at 2 p.m.