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City, lawyers to discuss quarry

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Various lawyers will be meeting with city leaders later this month to discuss the ongoing legal issues surrounding a proposed rock quarry.

An attorney/client meeting, also known as an "executive session," is to be held with the city council Thursday starting at 5 p.m., an hour before their regular meeting, to meet with outside counsel.

Then, on April 18 at 6 p.m., a special session of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) will be held, also with their attorneys.

The executive sessions come before two key votes set for April 25 -- when the BZA and Shelbyville's planning commission will take a look at matters concerning the quarry, which has been the subject of a $10 million federal lawsuit by Wright Paving.

Two votes

City manager Jay Johnson said the case was "a very unusual situation" because the city council has one outside attorney working for them, while the BZA has another. That's because while both parties are being sued, the BZA members are being sued individually, Johnson said.

The BZA was ordered by a state appellate judge last November to consider the Wrights' 2004 application for the quarry "at the earliest possible date."

On April 25, the planning commission will meet first to consider the Wrights' site plan for the proposed quarry, while the BZA, which will be examining the permit for conditional use of the land, meets immediately afterward - making two separate and distinct votes.

Johnson said it was "quite possible" that the planning commission could approve the site plan, but the BZA might reject the conditional use - or the opposite could happen.

"There's a whole range of scenarios, they both could approve, they both could deny, whatever," Johnson said.

Court ruling

Because of the court ruling, the quarry is to be reviewed under the zoning ordinance that existed in February 2004, before changes were made which kept the Wrights from building on the site. When the initial application for the quarry was made, residents near the proposed site said blasting would damage their property.

Shelbyville changed an ordinance in 2004 to rezone the Wrights' property so that a quarry was no longer permitted as a conditional use while the application was pending.

The company eventually filed suit, and on appeal it was ruled that the public notice of the zoning amendment had been defective and that the change was void.

The Wrights asked the BZA in 2010 to consider their application again under the property's original 2004 zoning, but the BZA refused to put the application on its meeting agenda. A trial court later found that action was arbitrary and illegal.

Later that year, the Wrights filed the $10 million federal lawsuit, demanding the city, planning commission, BZA and former planning director Ed Dodson be held liable for violating their civil, due process and equal protection rights.

They are also demanding damages for the future use of the property for quarrying, including all consequential damages and lost profits.