Rogers lawsuit over Americus quarry continues

Both sides in the ongoing dispute over a proposed quarry near Americus made their cases Friday, requesting summary judgment from Superior Court 1 Judge Randy Williams.

It’s the latest step in the back-and-forth battle that has waged since 2013, the year Nashville-based Rogers Group Inc. first notified residents it was proposing a stone quarry in northwest Tippecanoe County.

Attorneys for Rogers Group argue that the ordinance passed by the county commissioners last year was illegal and beyond the scope of the commissioners’ power, while attorneys for the county say it was well within the board’s right.

The crux of Friday’s argument is whether the ordinance – which created a buffer zone between residential homes and quarry operations – can be considered a “zoning” ordinance or a “prohibition” ordinance.

Christopher Shelmon, an attorney with Gutwein Law, which is representing Rogers Group, argued the ordinance is a zoning ordinance and goes beyond the commissioners’ authority.

“The defendants attempt to make this false dichotomy between police powers and zoning,” Shelmon said. “Zoning is a police power. The ordinance is in fact quintessential zoning.”

But Bob Reiling of Reiling, Teder and Schrier argued against that. His firm is representing the commissioners as well as county building commissioner.

“As long as the court finds this is a prohibition order – and I think there is ample evidence to support that – all these other arguments … they’re non sequiturs,” Reiling said. “They don’t make any sense.”

Williams scheduled the case’s next hearing for May 7 and said he expects the court to make a ruling no later than June.

“This is interesting stuff, important stuff on both sides,” Williams told the counselors. “I recognize that.”

The proposed stone quarry had the potential of 300 gravel trucks coming to and from the facility each day.

Residents protested, organizing a coalition and gathering hundreds of signatures in opposition. In May, Rogers withdrew its petition from the Board of Zoning Appeals to solicit community feedback. That’s when commissioners came to residents’ defense and approved the ordinance.

In January, Rogers Group withdrew its proposal. It filed the lawsuit the next day.

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