Indianapolis - Backers of a proposed limestone quarry east of Lowell cleared a key legal hurdle Monday when the Indiana Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling that allowed the project to proceed.
The 5-0 decision by the state's high court leaves intact a May 9 Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that determined the owners of two farms adjacent to the quarry site did not have legal standing to challenge the Lake County Council's 2010 decision to grant the quarry developers a zoning change to allow its excavation.
Ronald and Christy Hoffman and Sunnybrook Farm LLC had asked the Supreme Court to set aside the zoning change because they claimed the county did not follow proper procedures in enacting it.
The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case ends their legal challenge to the quarry.
The scene now shifts to the Lake County Drainage Board, which must decide whether to approve a water discharge permit for the project.
"Assuming we obtain that approval, construction will commence on the quarry itself," said attorney Jim Wieser, representing Singleton Stone LLC.
The Drainage Board typically consists of the three Lake County Board of Commissioners.
However, in a separate lawsuit, Jasper County Judge Rex Kepner barred participation by Commissioner Gerry Scheub, who represents residents living near the proposed quarry, because he was lead organizer of opposition to the quarry.
The judge appointed Richard McDevitt Jr., a Merrillville attorney, to replace Scheub on the Drainage Board when the quarry drainage permit is considered.
That decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in June, and Scheub did not ask the Supreme Court to review it.
Wieser said the stone company hopes the board will approve the permit at its November meeting.