Shelbyville has lost an appeals court decision in an ongoing lawsuit over a proposed rock quarry. The city has been ordered to reverse a zoning decision and pay legal costs.
On Thursday, the city council will gather for an attorney/client meeting to decide their next step in the suit, which could potentially be quite costly for Shelbyville.
Norma and Tommy Wright, Wright Paving Co. Inc., and Custom Stone LLC have been suing the city in federal court for $10 million for the past two years, as well as its Board of Zoning Appeals, planning commission, and former codes and planning director, Ed Dodson.
The city, BZA and planning commission are accused of violating due process, inverse condemnation, unconstitutional taking, negligence and creating an unconstitutional "floating" zone.
The federal case had been on hold until matters involving the same case in state court were resolved.Reversal
The lawsuit arises from a prolonged dispute over a proposed stone quarry that the Wrights wished to establish on their property on L. Fisher Road, attempting unsuccessfully to have the land zoned for that purpose in 2004-05. Residents near the proposed site protested the request for mining and quarrying, saying blasting at the site would damage their property.
State Appellate Judge Patricia J. Cottrell has ordered the BZA to consider the Wrights' 2004 application at the earliest possible date and has remanded the case back to the chancery court to see if they are entitled to any legal fees.
Cottrell wrote that over the past eight years, the city has blocked the Wrights' efforts to have the application considered. "(I)n effect, they (the Wrights) have not had their bite of the apple," the judge said, stating that the BZA can not claim Wright Paving has taken too long to have the matter considered.
City manager Jay Johnson told the T-G that an executive session of the city council has been set for 4 p.m. Thursday, when city attorney Ginger Shofner will review the court's decision.
The council has the option of accepting the ruling -- and calling on the BZA to reverse its ruling -- or appealing to the state supreme court.
Any decision can be acted upon when the council meets later in the evening for their regular November meeting, or put off until December.
"This has been one of those issues that has been ongoing for so long, we'll just have to take some time and review the court's decision," Johnson said.
While their application was pending, Shelbyville changed an ordinance to rezone the Wrights' property so that a quarry was no longer permitted as a conditional use. The Wrights filed suit, and on appeal the state appeals court held that the public notice of the zoning amendment had been defective and that the change was void.
In 2010, the Wrights then asked the BZA to consider their application again under the property's original 2004 zoning. The BZA refused to put the application on its meeting agenda.
The Wrights filed a petition and the trial court found that the BZA's action was arbitrary and illegal, but ruled that the Wrights were nonetheless precluded from obtaining any relief since the matter had already been before the court.
But now, the state appeals court has reversed that dismissal and agrees that the BZA's actions were arbitrary and capricious.