Judge Invalidates Meteor Timber’s Wetland Permit

Atlanta-based Meteor Timber is appealing a judge’s decision to invalidate wetland permits it was issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fill 16 acres of wetland in Monroe County as part of a proposed $75 million frac sand processing and rail loading facility, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

On May 4, Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort ruled the DNR improperly granted Meteor Timber permits because the agency lacked enough information to determine the environmental impact of the project and whether a plan to alleviate wetland impacts would work.

“Today, we filed an appeal of the administrative law judge determination on our DNR Permit. We believe our permit application and the 30-plus months of continued work with the Department clearly demonstrate the permit was comprehensive and should allow the project to go forward. We look forward to a robust discussion and intend to follow the process to its rightful conclusion that will allow this $75 million project to proceed, and the local community to flourish,” stated Chris Mathis, project manager for Meteor Timber, in a released statement by the company.

A document sent to WPR by Meteor Timber mentioned the DNR has “the sole discretion to concur with the administrative law judge or reverse the decision if the agency believes there are significant factual or legal errors. Meteor Timber believes there are errors which merit a second review by the state agency with decades of experience in environmental permitting.”

Meteor said a number of Defort’s findings in his decision are contradicted by conditions included in the permit issued by the DNR. Also, the document criticized the court for making its decision without “acknowledging the testimony of the department’s five witnesses (or any of the Meteor witnesses), but based solely on the testimony of a former department staffer who helped to draft the conditions of the permit she later testified against.”

Vulcan Works to Alter Zoning on Land in Georgia

The Monroe County, Ga., Planning & Zoning board denied by a 2-1 vote a request by Vulcan Materials Co. to alter the zoning of three tracts of land on Pea Ridge Road, according to the Monroe County Reporter.

Real estate developer Richard Hall asked the P&Z board to change the zoning of three parcels from agricultural to industrial with a conditional use variance to build a berm extension for the rock quarry. About 60 local residents opposed Vulcan’s request, several citing a failure by officials to adhere to conditions established by county commissioners when they approved a previous expansion in 2009.

Monroe County Commissioners later, by a 4-0 vote, allowed Vulcan to build a berm extension on 16 acres on Pea Ridge Road.

National Lime and Stone Prevails

Marion, Ohio, will soon be a little more than 200 acres larger, according to the Marion Star. Marion City Council passed 8-0 an ordinance expanding the city limits and bringing into the city 224 acres of land owned by National Lime and Stone Co. It marks a milestone in the long journey by which National Lime and Stone has tried to expand its mining operations in the county.

In 2014, after the company was met with resistance to the mining of agricultural land it owned in Grand Prairie Township, it petitioned to have the land annexed into the city and re-zoned for mineral extraction. But that petition stalled when the county objected, setting off a multi-year legal battle that, in October, was resolved in the company’s favor.

National Lime’s expansion has caused concern among many residents living near the quarry, who for years have complained of noise pollution and questioned what role that plant operations may have had in cracks in their homes’ foundations and leakage from their wells. Some of the residents, who live in a subdivision as little as 1,000 ft. from the quarry, had asked that a larger buffer zone be designated between their homes and the mining operation.

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