[January 21, 2014]Last week, court hearings in an
appeal addressing issues in the potential mining of limestone west
of Lincoln were brought to a close, yet unfinished.
More than a year ago, on Dec. 18, 2012, the Logan County Board
approved the zoning change on 280 acres owned by Douglas Muck and
Stephen and Pamela Schreiner filed a civil suit on March 18,
2013, naming the Logan County Board and the landowners. The
Schreiners, who live and farm across from the where the mine would
be located, are concerned about the potential effects on the water
supply and the possible loss of water to their farming industry and
The case is being argued before Judge William Yoder.
There have now been five hearings, with the first in June of 2013
and the one previous to this in October 2013. Progress was initially
slowed by misplaced and wayward notifications, changes in legal
representation, and then bogged down in preliminary motions
Yoder closed the hearing in October with an attempt to move the
matter forward by creating a clean slate, asking that new motions be
filed and that all parties be present and ready to move forward at
the next hearing.
When everyone was assembled Jan. 13, all were present with one
addition. Jason T. Germeraad of Scott and Scott, Springfield, had
been added to represent Arch. Arch was previously represented by her
brother, Douglas Muck, who is an attorney. Muck continued to
represent himself in this case.
The county continued to be represented by State's Attorney
Stephen and Pamela Schreiner were present, with their
representation provided by Stephen Hedinger of Sorling Northrup,
Yoder said at the outset that he had allowed one hour for the
lawyers’ presentations and asked if that would be sufficient for
everyone. All present agreed.
The court hearings have mirrored the public hearings and reviews
during the request to change the zoning of the land for the purpose
of extraction: mining limestone. That process was also
time-consuming with legal complexities and delays.
Between Sept. 6, 2012, and Dec. 18, 2012, the process included
presentations before the regional planning commission, planning and
zoning committee, zoning board of appeals, and finally the Logan
County Board, all totaling umpteen hours of presentations.
From the outset, the intention to mine at the new site, which is
approximately 1 mile east of the old quarry, has drawn considerable
attention. Nearby farmers and residents have concerns about
potential effects. Mine workers and those with local economic
interests favor its development.
The first two public hearings of the county's appeals board
packed the Beason Township garage to overflowing. People stood
outside in the growing dark to listen in. The hearings were
exceptionally long, each lasting approximately three hours. The time
spent and progress made from these hearings was scrapped when it was
noted that certain neighboring property owners had not received
There were several more public hearings of similar length.
Starting all over again, the hearings were moved to a larger
space at West Lincoln-Broadwell School and continued to grow in
attention that left people standing outside. With each hearing, more
lawyers and experts appeared. People arrived with the heat of the
day and the setting sun, but left in the solid dark with a chill in
When all were finally heard, the appeals board made its decision,
"No recommendation," to the county board.
The presentation before the county board went in much the same
Jan. 13 was the fifth court hearing in the civil case and, as
it would turn out, the last.
Motions regarding flawed initial procedures continued. In the
midst of this, Muck said that the company that was interested in
doing the mining, Hanson Materials, had pulled out some time ago
when it was taking too long to get approval. He has, however,
considered looking for another company or perhaps mining the land
Arguments spilled into rounds of illustrating and pressing
violations in statutes of limitation. Frustrations over the lack of
progress were aimed and refuted back-and-forth for over an hour with
no sign of getting to the discovery phase anytime soon —
"discovery" being when the actual issues in the case would be
In wrapping up, the lawyers from Lincoln, Muck and Wright, said
that the power outage on Friday had cut into some of the time they
had reserved for their preparations.
Yoder was understanding of the unforeseen interruption, as he,
too, had endured the all-afternoon loss. In the interest of
equality, he said he would allow each lawyer involved from all
parties to submit written responses in the next seven days, which he
Rather than permitting further delaying motions, gesturing toward
a large stack of file folders, Yoder announced that he would read
the documentation on his own, make his decision on the merits of the
case and then provide a written ruling.