On Thursday, District Judge Marsha Bergen dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop Coots Materials, Inc., from constructing a sand pit on 24th Ave. Drive north of Vinton.
Company owner Dave Coots said Friday evening that he had not been too concerned about the court case. Some work has begun on the site, he said, but much more remains to be done before crews start dredging sand from the area.
“We will open it as soon as we can, but it will take some work,” said Coots. The company continues to use its current sand pit on the west side of the Cedar River. Coots earlier had told the supervisors that the current pit is nearing the end of its life and the 24th Ave. site has the kind of materials needed for the company’s operation.
The Benton County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the sand pit project a little over a year ago. Rodney Fisher and other neighbors, represented by Belle Plaine attorney Jennifer Zahradnik, appealed the supervisors’ decision to the Benton County Board of Adjustment. But the five unpaid members of that board determined that since the supervisors had approved the land use request authorizing the sand pit, they did have the jurisdiction to rule on the issue. Zahradnik then filed the Certiorari petition in August, asking the court to reverse the decision by both county boards.
Benton County Attorney Dave Thompson said that Judge Bergen ruled that the plaintiffs did not file their petition in a proper, timely manner. He said ruling effectively ends the case, although the plaintiffs do have 30 days to appeal it to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Red Shed case still pending in court
Zahradnik was the lawyer in another case involving the Benton County Board of adjustment. She represented Gary and Jill Marlow as they opposed the opening of Red Shed Auto by Dean Brown on the opposite side of their home on 55th Street, just a mile or so from the sand pit area. Former Supervisors Terry Hertle and Don Freese had voted against Brown’s land use change request. Later, after the Board of Adjustment arbitrated an agreement between Brown and the Marlows, Zahradnik filed a petition on her own behalf in District Court to reverse the decision. That suit, filed in March of 2016, is still pending in court.
See earlier stories about the sand pit issue, and the lawsuits, below: