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Supreme Court reverses Appeal Court decision; rules against Kandiyohi County

WILLMAR - The Minnesota Supreme Court Thursday reversed an Appeals Court decision and ruled against Kandiyohi County in the lawsuit that was initiated by a group of county residents.

The high court's ruling said Kandiyohi County's conclusion that the gravel pits wouldn't have a cumulative impact on the environment was "arbitrary and capricious" and based primarily on statements by the developer, Duininck Bros. Construction of Prinsburg.

The court said the county did not adequately consider the issue of "cumulative" impact of gravel pits before agreeing not to require Duinincks to complete an environmental impact statement on the two new pits, located near Eagle Lake and Long Lake. The county determined in July of 2003 that the less stringent environmental assessment worksheet was adequate and more extensive environmental review wasn't necessary.

In its ruling, the Justices said the county "made an error of law when it determined that "to show a cumulative negative impact [on the environment], there must be reason to believe that each project in itself will at least have a significant negative impact to the environment."

The Court has sent the issue back to Kandiyohi County for a new administrative determination.

The decision comes after a lawsuit was started in January of 2004 by a group calling themselves Citizens Advocating Responsible Development. The case traveled from District Court, to the Appeals Court and finally the Supreme Court.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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