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Pattison Sand Company challenges Riverway board's permit decisions
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The legal challenges surrounding the frac sand mine in Bridgeport Township now number two.

Pattison Sand Company has challenged the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board’s decision made on August 22 to deny nonmetallic mining permits for portions of three properties lying within the Riverway boundaries in the Town of Bridgeport.

A petition for judicial review was filed with the Crawford County Circuit Court on Sept. 20 naming the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board and Wisconsin Department of Tourism as respondents.

The petition alleges that the decision to deny the permits was contrary to applicable statutes, including allowing testimony from the general public unrelated and contrary to the outlined by the state for making a determination on a non-metallic mining permit application.

The Riverway board is attached to the Department of Tourism under Wisconsin stature 15.03. As such, the state tourism department by law may only oversee the direction and supervision of budgeting, program coordination and related management functions. The Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board operates independently in its duties and functions; including rule making, licensing and regulation and operational planning.

Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Mark Bromley will represent the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board, which has until November 20 to respond.

“We are in the process of compiling the records necessary to make a response,” Bromley said.

No formal statement from the board is available, at this time.

An earlier suit, relating to the mine, was filed on August 21. Crawford Stewardship Project and Town of Bridgeport residents Arnold Steel, Mark Fishler, Loren Fishler, and Dan Linder filed a Petition of Writ of Certiorari asking the court to invalidate the township’s Conditional Use Permit, Reclamation Permit and approval for the commencement of mining and order new hearings.

The Crawford Stewardship Project suit alleges conflict of interest, erroneous application of zoning and a lack of fairness in decision-making. It also claims that area residents will suffer negative impacts caused by noise, traffic and dust.

The Town of Bridgeport’s insurance-appointed lawyer, Timothy Yanacheck from the Madison law firm of Bell Moore & Richter SC, filed a response on October 11.

The response denies the bulk of allegations on the basis of insufficient evidence to prove harmful impacts and inaccuracies in interpreting the ordinances.

“The court will now set a date (to appear),” Yanacheck said.

Noting he had no idea what the civil caseload was in Crawford County, Yanacheck noted that normally within Wisconsin, a suit would be heard within a year of the initial filing.