Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig Day ruled in favor of the Town of Bridgeport in the review of a contested frac sand mining permit.
Crawford Stewardship Project and Bridgeport landowners Arnold Steele, Mark Fishler, Loren Fishler, and Loren Linder sought to have the conditional use permit (CUP) allowing Pattison Sand Company to operate a frac sand mine, voided and the permit application reheard.
The plaintiffs argued that the process of issuing the CUP was flawed by conflicts of interest, improper denial of a review request and inadequate public input.
The township, with Pattison Sand Company as an intervening defendant, argued that the plaintiffs failed to appeal the township decision in the appropriate timeframe and denied all other claims.
Judge Day, while acknowledging that some conflict of interest existed, found they were such as did not affect the outcome of the township’s decision to grant the permit.
Further, Day decided that the plaintiffs were not entitled to a contested case hearing through the Bridgeport Township Board of Appeals for the CUP, because they failed to meet the timeline to appeal the mining permit, and the town met both process and public input requirements.
“The Plan Commission and Town Board could have reached the opposite conclusion it reached. Had it reached the opposite conclusion, that conclusion would likely withstand certiorari review. The essence of local government decision-making is to reflect community values and preferences regarding land use… In the Town of Bridgeport, the policy decision was that the balance of the competing interests favored a mining land use. Mining is a conditional use specifically authorized in the agricultural zoning district by the Town of Bridgeport Zoning Ordinance. The Boards concluded the mine did not adversely affect the health and welfare of the community and that the reclamation plan was compliant with legal requirements. The Plan Commission and Town Board reviewed and investigated the matter, it heard from the varying interests of the members of the public, it followed legal requirements, and it exercised its judgment based upon the information it received. The determination is reasonable, and the court will not upset that determination.
“The decisions of the Bridgeport Plan Commission and Town Board are affirmed.”
Letter to the Editor issued in response to the decision: http://www.swnews4u.com/section/97/article/25665/