Judge backs up county limits on gravel pit
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: February 1, 2013
Ninth Judicial District Judge Timothy Day on Wednesday backed up Teton County commissioners’ decision limiting gravel operations in South Park.
Day said county leaders were well within their authority last November when they restricted how much gravel Roger Seherr-Thoss could process and how much land could be used for those operations.
The order he upheld limits Seherr-Thoss to 17,000 tons of gravel per year and restricts his operations to three acres.
In 2010, he processed approximately 28,000 tons of gravel.
Even though Seherr-Thoss started processing gravel before the county first developed land-use rules, county officials have the ability to regulate expanded or altered uses at the site.
“The county is permitting the grandfathered use for sand and gravel and properly employing regulatory authority to deny development beyond the existing non-conforming use,” Day said in the ruling.
Attorneys on both sides of the case did not return calls seeking comment about the ruling.
The decision marks the latest chapter in Seherr-Thoss’ 18-year battle with the county.
County planners have argued they should be allowed to regulate any use that was put in place after they established land regulations in the mid-1970s.
Seherr-Thoss and his attorneys have insisted that the county has zero authority to curtail a business that started before the rules were in place. Instead, they claimed, the state Department of Environmental Quality is the only regulatory agency that should have a say in what is allowed at the gravel pit.
In his ruling, Day said the county commission did not overstep its bounds in issuing its decision, nor did it step on the toes of DEQ staffers.
“In this case, the county is reasonably exercising its authority,” Day said in the ruling.
Seherr-Thoss already had agreed to limit the hours of operations and the days he would process gravel.