Monday, October 14, 2013
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Appeal in legal limbo on rezoning to allow limestone mining

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[October 14, 2013]  Just over a year ago, a request to rezone land for the use of mining limestone was presented to Logan County authorities.

The 280-acre parcel, located just west of Lincoln and about a mile east of the former limestone quarry, is owned by Douglas Muck and his sister, Kaellyn Arch.

Several neighbors opposed allowing mining in the area and hired lawyers to represent them during the review processes. Adjacent acreage supports livestock and crop production. Of major concern to the farmers was the amount of water that the mining operation would require; groundwater could be depleted and their wells could run dry.

Beginning in September 2012, the matter went before the Logan County Regional Planning Commission, zoning board of appeals and finally the county board. Around 20 hours of arguments were publicly aired, often becoming heated between laid-off miners, the landowner and the farmers.

On Dec. 19, 2012, the Logan County Board approved the request with a vote of 10-1 to rezone from agriculture, special district to Manufacturing - 3, which permits extraction.

The adjourned board meeting was held in the third-floor courtroom of the Logan County Courthouse in order to accommodate the large number of people interested in the decision, which was the largest public interest in recent history. There appeared to be near equal numbers interested in both sides of the matter present.

The rezoning process includes completion of a standard list of permitting and requirements specific to mining, such as environmental impact studies. There would also need to be township road agreements and the like in place before building permits would be issued and mining activity could begin.

To date, zoning officer Will D'Andrea said that since the time the board had approved the rezoning, he had received no further information toward the requirements that must be met.

As standard practice for any rezoning decision, adjacent property owners were provided a 120-day window to appeal the board's decision.

On March 18, 2013, Stephen and Pamela Schreiner, who farm and live across the road from where the quarry would be located, filed a civil complaint at the Logan County Courthouse.

From that time forward, numerous items were placed on file in the civil case.

In June, August, September and October, hearings were held on motions that had been filed without actually getting closer to the target topic, or the "discovery" phase, when the zoning issues would be discussed. The last hearing, held before Judge William Yoder on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the third-floor courtroom, was to discuss jurisdiction and sanctions.

Complicating matters, the Schreiners' lawyer, George Mueller, dropped the case in September without prior notification to the Schreiners. Attorney Stephen Hedinger of Sorling Northrup in Springfield stepped in just this month.

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An issue of "jurisdiction" related to the initial summons to Kaellyn Arch was discussed at length. Due to some misplaced paperwork, Arch was not served her summons within the proper time frame.

The matter of "sanctions" was not gotten to on Wednesday.

After 45 minutes, with much of the time spent on the faulty summons and its impact on jurisdiction, and several thwarted attempts to move matters forward, Judge Yoder shook his head, sighed and then took a long moment to review, as he stated, the already "voluminous" case file filled with "numerous pleadings and memorandums," which also included special limited-interest motions.

When he looked up, Yoder stated, "We're not going to do this piecemeal." He declared all previous court orders dismissed. He added, "We are going to wait until all parties are present to move forward with this case." He asked that new motions be filed, new summonses issued to the parties involved, and said that this would move forward with a clean slate.

The parties involved are as follows:


  • Stephen and Pamela Schreiner, represented by Stephen Hedinger of Sorling Northrup, Springfield


  • Douglas Muck and Kaellyn Arch, represented by Laurie Muck and himself, Douglas Muck

  • The people of Logan County, represented by State's Attorney Jonathan Wright

  • The Logan County Board, also represented by State's Attorney Jonathan Wright

The date for the next hearing would be set when all parties could be present and motions on file.


Articles on rezoning request from 2012:

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