Gravel pit appeal heads to state Supreme Court
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
March 5, 2013
South Park gravel pit operator Roger Seherr-Thoss’ attorney filed documents last week that say he plans to challenge Teton County planners in the state Supreme Court.
Attorney Elizabeth Moore filed a notice to appeal last week seeking to challenge a January ruling from 9th Judicial District Court Judge Timothy Day in the state’s high court.
The two-page document, which was filed Feb. 22, does not contain any arguments about the merits of the case. It simply sets in motion the appeals process at the state’s highest level of judicial review and will likely tack on more time to the longtime resident’s fight with county planners, which has stretched on for nearly two decades.
At the heart of the legal battle is whether county planners have the ability to restrict how much gravel Seherr-Thoss can process at his South Park property.
Seherr-Thoss argues that he started his business years before land development regulations were put in place. He claims that means he’s exempt from those rules.
He has also argued that the county’s attempt to limit how much gravel he processes steps beyond its authority into an area that is already regulated by the State Department of Environmental Quality.
Planners contend that they’re allowed to regulate any expansion of Seherr-Thoss’ operation that happened after the land-use rules were adopted.
For county planners, the case could answer numerous land-use questions about “grandfathered” uses and clarify the county’s role in regulating those operations. For Seherr-Thoss, the outcome could have a significant effect on his business.
The issue has already been in front of county commissioners during an administrative review. Commissioners backed county planners. And earlier this year, Judge Day upheld county officials’ decision, ending district court deliberations that started last summer.
If upheld by Wyoming Supreme Court justices, Seherr-Thoss’ operations would have to be greatly scaled back to comply with county restrictions.
The county order limits Seherr-Thoss to 17,000 tons of gravel a year. It is also meant to cut his operations to 3 acres. In 2010, he processed approximately 28,000 tons of gravel.