Battle over Sagle asphalt plant continues

Judge denies Bonner County motion to dismiss petition

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The saga of the proposed asphalt batch plant in Sagle continues after a District Court judge in Nez Perce County ruled July 26 to deny a request by Bonner County legal counsel to dismiss a petition for judicial review. That petition, submitted by the nonprofit group Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant, challenged the county commissioners’ decision to grant a conditional use permit for a batch plant.

Controversy surrounding the proposed facility began in November 2018, when the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for Interstate Concrete & Asphalt to operate an asphalt plant in Linscott gravel pit in Sagle.

Opponents of the project — concerned about potential negative effects on health and property values — filed an appeal following that approval. Appellants alleged that the P&Z board had not based its decision on facts and it granting of the permit ran contrary to local, state and federal law.

Bonner County commissioners convened a hearing to consider the appeal in early January, ultimately upholding the P&Z board’s decision.

Concerned Sagle residents then submitted a request for consideration later that month, outlining 11 “alleged deficiencies” with commissioners’ decision. One of those deficiencies — failure to follow non-conforming use code — led to a hearing in late March.

Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant claimed that placing a batch plant within the gravel pit would expand a non-conforming use, which is against county revised code. Planner Sam Ross said the batch plant and gravel pit are considered separate uses, so non-conforming use code does not apply. County commissioners went on to uphold their earlier decision, granting the permit to Interstate.

The anti-plant group then filed a petition for judicial review on April 19, but due to a filing error, they had to resubmit. The date of resubmittal is unclear, as the petition failed to be filed by court officials for an unknown reason. News of the failure to file didn’t reach the citizens group until May 1, making it the official petition submittal date.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor William Wilson, representing the county commission, filed a motion to dismiss the petition May 16. Wilson claimed the petition had been submitted late. County code dictates “petitions seeking judicial review of an approval of a special use permit must be filed no later than 28 days after all remedies have been exhausted under local ordinances.”

Second Judicial District Judge Jeff M. Brudie denied the county’s request for dismissal on the grounds that “these defects are easily curable and Bonner County has not demonstrated any prejudice due to the deficiencies they have alleged.”

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