By Lyndsie Kiebert
Second District Court Judge Jeff M. Brudie handed down an opinion Feb. 5 in the case of the hotly contested Sagle asphalt plant proposal, affirming the Board of Bonner County Commissioners’ approval of a conditional use permit for the facility.
The decision comes after more than a year of hearings and appeals spearheaded by a group of concerned citizens who allege that the Linscott gravel pit in Sagle is unfit for a batch plant and that such an operation would be detrimental to health and property values. Interstate Concrete & Asphalt would operate the plant.
At a hearing Dec. 13, Gary Allen — a Boise lawyer representing the Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant — argued before Brudie that the commissioners approved the batch plant CUP based on an improperly adopted ordinance, and that the Linscott pit is currently in violation of various county planning codes. Legal counsel representing Interstate and the Linscott family argued that county code regarding asphalt plants stipulates only that the gravel pit be “active” in order for a CUP to be granted.
In his 11-page opinion, Brudie wrote that concerns on the part of the citizens’ group should be addressed outside the petition for judicial review. He said that the ordinance in question — which the group argued was unlawfully adopted — should be challenged through a declaratory action. The board’s decision to grant the CUP despite opponents’ argument that the gravel pit may be in violation of county code, Brudie said, should be brought before the Bonner County prosecutor in an effort to review and define ordinances and see if any are in fact being violated.
Brudie denied both Bonner County and Interstate’s requests for attorney’s fees, stating in the opinion that “while Citizens’ petition was ultimately unsuccessful, the Court finds it raised sufficient novel issues and therefore was not brought frivolously, unreasonably, or without foundation.”
Allen said the petitioners are currently “reviewing their next steps.”
“We have not decided how we will move forward but [we’re] making decisions,” Jonna Plante, founding member of Citizens Against Linscott/Interstate Asphalt Plant, told the Reader on Feb. 18. “We feel the ordinances of Bonner County should be followed without having to spend thousand of dollars to get them enforced, such as nonconforming land and expansion of it.”
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