A timetable has been set for the lawsuit brought by opponents of a sand processing plant in Chippewa Falls against the city’s Plan Commission. City Attorney Robert Ferg outlined the timetable in a Jan. 6 letter to Mayor Greg Hoffman and Richard Rubenzer, the director of the city’s public works department.
An attorney representing the Concerned Chippewa Citizens will file a written brief and arguments on Feb. 16. That will be followed by the city’s legal brief and arguments on March 16. The plaintiffs will then get to file a reply brief by March 30. A hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 and Judge Roderick Cameron intends to issue an oral decision then.
Just a reminder that a letter has been sent by Attorney Glenn Stoddard to Judge Cameron in Chippewa Co. asking for a date for a conference as well as oral argument in our case contesting the Conditional Use Permit as written by the Plan Commission and the City of Chippewa Falls. Please have HOPE that we will prevail in this case!!!! See Letter to Judge in index.
|Sand Plant Gets Approval|
|Posted: 10:45 PM Dec 16, 2008|
Last Updated: 10:45 PM Dec 16, 2008
|THE CHIPPEWA FALLS CITY COUNCIL NARROWLY APPROVED A PROPOSAL TO BUILD A SAND PLANT IN THE CITY LAST NIGHT. FOURTH WARD ALDERMAN JASON ANDERSON VOTED "PRESENT," LEAVING THE TIE-BREAKING VOTE TO MAYOR GREG HOFFMAN, WHO VOTED IN FAVOR. NEARLY TWO DOZEN CITIZENS VOICED THEIR CONCERNS FOR OVER AN HOUR, CITING WORRIES ABOUT BLOWING SAND CAUSING HEALTH PROBLEMS, A NET LOSS OF JOBS FROM BUSINESSES WHO MOVE OR WON'T LOCATE NEAR THE PLANT, AND HEAVY TRAFFIC AND DIESEL FUMES FROM THE TRUCKS. YESTERDAY, MAYOR HOFFMAN SAID DESPITE THE HEAVY ORGANIZED OPPOSITION, HIS DISCUSSIONS WITH MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC DON'T INDICATE A MAJORITY OF CITY RESIDENTS ARE OPPOSED TO THE PROJECT. CANADIAN SAND AND PROPPANT MANAGER GARY STONE TRIED TO ALLAY MANY OF THE CONCERNS, SAYING THE PLANT WILL HAVE TO MEET AIR QUALITY STANDARDS. THE COUNCIL ALSO APPROVED A 1.75 MILLION DOLLAR TAX INCREMENT BOND TO HELP THE PLANT GET STARTED.|
------------------------------------------------------------------- By MARK GUNDERMAN firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday, November 18, 2008 10:05 AM CST
A group calling itself “Concerned Chippewa Citizens” has filed a lawsuit in Chippewa County Court seeking to stop development of the Canadian Sand and Proppant sand processing plant in Chippewa Falls. The suit, filed Friday, names the City of Chippewa Falls Plan Commission as the defendant and asks that the commission’s Oct. 27 decision granting a conditional use permit to exceed building height requirements be voided.
The suit further asks that a restraining order be issued prohibiting the Plan Commission and the city from issuing any further or related approvals, variances or permits “of any kind whatsoever” to Canadian Sand and Proppant while the lawsuit is pending. The suit also asks that the matter not be sent back to the Plan Commission unless the city is required to “appoint a new and unbiased Plan Commission.” Named as plaintiffs in the case along with Concerned Chippewa Citizens are Patricia J. Popple, 561 Summit Ave., and Allen Curtis, 1187 Evergreen Lane #4, both of Chippewa Falls. The plaintiffs are represented by Eau Claire attorney Glenn Stoddard, who represents another group in the town of Howard opposed to the sand company’s plans. The Canadian Sand and Proppant project has been embroiled in controversy since the newly-formed company with ties to the oil and natural gas industry announced its plans earlier this year. The company planned to mine sand in Chippewa and Barron counties and truck or rail sand to a plant in Chippewa Falls, where it would be washed and processed according to grain characteristics, then shipped out by rail. The sand would ultimately be used as “frac” sand to fracture oil wells, increasing their production. A proposed mine in the town of Howard led to an organization being formed there to stop the mine, and that part of the project appears headed for court action in a dispute over whether a town of Howard ordinance regulating such mines is valid. The company needed little action from the city of Chippewa Falls. The land in question, on the city’s northeast side south of County S, was rezoned heavy industrial some time ago. Opponents charge it was done with city officials’ knowledge of the sand company’s plans without informing the public of those plans. The rezoning went through without public opposition. The city set up a tax incremental finance (TIF) district to accommodate the company, and the Plan Commission voted 11-1 to grant a conditional use permit for processing plant facilities to exceed height standards. The plaintiffs in the suit are using the decision on the conditional use permit to try to halt action on the project. The suit states that the plaintiffs are aggrieved because “their real property and personal interests, including their quality of life, health and safety, will be adversely affected by the development and operation of the proposed sand processing plant approved by the Plan Commission.” The suit alleged that the Plan Commission members were “biased and improperly prejudged the matter in favor of CSP prior to the public hearing and before the (conditional use permit) decision was made.” The commission’s decision was illegal because the decision was “obviously” biased, the suit alleges. The decision is also challenged on procedural grounds, with the suit claiming that the decision amounts to granting a variance to the company, and authority to grant variances belongs to the Board of Adjustment. The suit also alleges the commission made its decision without due deliberation and without making findings of fact. The city has 45 days to respond to the suit. No court hearing dates have yet been set. The group filing the lawsuit has called a news conference for 6:15 tonight, 15 minutes before the start of the City Council meeting, at City Hall at 30 W. Central St. It also plans to make comments at the council meeting. Contact Mark Gunderman at email@example.com.
By ROD STETZER
The Chippewa Herald
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:07 AM CST
The conversation was one-sided. The Chippewa Falls City Council chambers were packed Tuesday by opponents of a proposed Canadian Sand and Proppant sand mine plant in the city. More than 50 people came to the meeting following a news conference held by the group Concerned Chippewa Citizens. The group is suing the city’s Plan Commission to stop the project.
Six people then appeared before the council, each speaking out against the project. No one from the council spoke on the subject, partly because the city is being sued and partly because the subject wasn’t on the council’s agenda. Mayor Greg Hoffman welcomed the plant opponents. “I appreciate the fact the citizens are concerned,” Hoffman said, noting he wants to make sure city residents are being heard. “This is good that the citizens are stepping forward,” Hoffman said. The lawsuit asks the court to void the conditional use permit and prohibit the city from issuing any further approvals of permits and variances, said Patricia Popple, co-president of Concerned Chippewa Citizens. During the news conference, Popple said the group believes the city and Chippewa County failed to look at the negative health, safety and environmental impact of the sand mine plant. Popple said the group is also concerned about property values and noise caused by the truck and rail traffic from the project. “What you see tonight is only the beginning,” said the group’s attorney, Glenn Stoddard of Eau Claire. He said the Plan Commission failed to address whether the project was in harmony with the city code and whether it was in the public interest. “It basically ignored the law,” Stoddard said. He claimed the Plan Commission’s approval of the permit was arbitrary and unreasonable. The lawsuit asks that the city be required to appoint a new and “unbiased” Plan Commission, and that any related variance requests be sent to the city Board of Appeals. Stoddard said that it’s not uncommon for individual members of a commission to be replaced. But he said he was unaware of a situation where an entire Plan Commission has been replaced in the state. “I can’t say that I’ve seen a published case in Wisconsin of that,” Stoddard said. Hoffman said Chippewa Falls City Attorney Robert Ferg is looking at the lawsuit. The city will have to wait and see if the lawsuit places any limits on city actions, Hoffman said. No action on budget On another matter, the council did not take up the proposed 2009 city budget, which is scheduled for a public hearing on Dec. 2. But the council did approve getting bids to restructure $1.2 million of city debt.