Kentucky appeals court upholds Deweese quarry permit

The Kentucky Court of Appeals Friday upheld a permit issued to Charles Deweese Construction to develop 87 acres of agriculturally-zoned land as a rock quarry.

The ruling by the three-judge appeals court panel is a legal victory for Charles Deweese Construction, which obtained the conditional use permit five years ago to develop the quarry, Bowling Green Daily News reports.

The zoning board approved the permit following a six-hour meeting that attracted an overflow crowd at Simpson County Courthouse and saw several people speak out in opposition to the proposed quarry.

Two years after granting the permit, the zoning board revoked it after allegations were presented that Drakes Creek Holdings, the entity that applied for the permit, was not in compliance.

Drakes Creek Holdings appealed the decision to the courts, and Special Judge Tyler Gill ruled in its favor in 2015 and restored the permit, prompting the appeal by a group of neighboring landowners opposed to the quarry.

Judge Debra Lambert of the state appeals court wrote on behalf the other judges who heard the appeal, ruling that the 2012 permit was properly granted.

Lambert determined that the zoning board had a sufficient basis for issuing the permit, having considered arguments from quarry supporters that the operation would benefit the community by creating jobs and increasing competition for limestone rock and agricultural lime.

The board issued the permit without violating the due process rights of David and Ronda Carver, who spoke in opposition to the planned quarry, presenting concerns that Ditmore Ford Road, an access road that goes past the quarry entrance, could not support heavy truck traffic and would present a safety hazard to motorists.

The conditional use permit required trucks to turn west on Ditmore Ford Road when exiting the quarry, established set operating hours at the quarry and required Deweese to construct a 15-foot berm along the southern and western edges of the property to serve as a noise deterrent.

After the permit was issued, the Simpson County Fiscal Court and Franklin City Commission passed ordinances prohibiting commercial trucks from hauling material on Ditmore Ford Road.

In 2014, the zoning board revoked the permit after zoning and planning administrator Joe Perry presented evidence that trucks were using a privately-built haul road on the Deweese-owned property to transport rock, bypassing Ditmore Ford Road altogether.

This was presented as evidence of non-compliance with the permit, but the appeals court ruled Friday that the decision to revoke the permit was arbitrary and improper.

“The conditional use permit only required trucks to exit the quarry by turning west on Ditmore Ford Road, while the ordinances only banned commercial trucks from traveling on Ditmore Ford Road,” Lambert wrote.

“The ordinances did not prevent the Deweeses from operating the quarry, nor did they restrict all vehicles form using Ditmore Ford Road. Indeed, neither the use of Ditmore Ford Road nor a vehicle is hypothetically necessary for transporting material from the quarry.”

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