By Lyndsie Kiebert
Sagle residents opposed to an asphalt batch plant in a local gravel pit have successfully overturned a piece of Bonner County Revised Code that allowed such operations in non-industrial zones, marking the latest in a series of contentious court battles regarding the proposed facility.
The residents who brought the suit — known as the Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant — allege that the county failed to provide public notice of a proposed amendment to County Code in 2018, which cleared the way for asphalt or concrete batch plants within farming, agriculture/forestry and residential zones, provided they acquired a conditional use permit.
The county’s planning and zoning commission and board of county commissioners approved the amendment, and Frank and Carol Linscott applied for a conditional use permit soon after to relocate a Sandpoint batch plant belonging to Interstate Concrete & Asphalt to their rural-zoned Sagle gravel pit.
After much public debate — stemming mostly from Sagle residents concerned about environmental dangers and negative impacts on property values — the Linscotts’ permit was approved. The citizens group then filed a petition for judicial review against the county, the Linscotts and Interstate, in which Nez Perce County District Court Judge Jeff M. Brudie upheld the county’s decision.
In the case regarding the conditional use permit, Brudie did note that “a challenge to the validity of the amendment [to County Code] should have been brought as a declaratory action, separate from the petition for judicial review,” according to court documents.
Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant filed for a declaratory judgment against Bonner County on June 18, asking for relief regarding only the alleged invalid code amendment adoption.
The citizens group and the county came to an agreement outside of court and, on July 17, Kootenai County District Court Judge Lansing L. Haynes executed the agreed upon judgment — declaring the amendment to County Code allowing batch plants outside the industrial zone to be void. The judge also determined that neither party would be awarded costs or fees in the case.
When asked whether the ruling affects the validity of the Linscotts’ conditional use permit, Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson said he could not comment until the case regarding the permit — currently pending appeal in the Idaho Supreme Court — is resolved.
Attorney Gary Allen, representing the citizen group on behalf of Boise-based law firm Givens Pursley, said he believes the judgment will directly affect the permit for the plant.
“In our view, it means the permit was issued based on an invalid ordinance, and therefore must be overturned,” Allen said.
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