A decision of the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri today results in a dual victory – protection of the rights of citizens to have their voices heard, and the halting of construction of a concrete plant which threatened the public health and local conservation.
Concerned Citizens Against Landvatter Ready Mix, along with an individual citizen, had appealed a Circuit Court decision upholding a Franklin County Commission rezoning of land to make way for a concrete plant. Great Rivers Environmental Law Center has represented these plaintiffs in this battle since 2014, when Landvatter Ready Mix, Inc. proposed to build a ready-mix concrete plant on tree-covered hills very near the Shaw Nature Reserve in Franklin County. There are houses and apartments in the area between the Nature Reserve and the proposed plant. The homeowners believe the proposed plant will cause them to breathe in dust, suffer from noise and increased traffic, and believe that the wildlife, fish, birds, flora and fauna in the Nature Reserve will also suffer from the plant.
At the hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, the P & Z did allow the developer to speak, but refused to allow the public to speak before voting to rezone the space to allow the concrete plant to be built.
Kelly Brothers Mason, a resident whose house sits right between the Nature Reserve and the proposed concrete plant, said, “We were not allowed to voice our concerns to the Planning and Zoning board which makes the recommendation to the County Commission, and it approves recommendations 92% of the time. This concrete plant should not be built here; it belongs in an industrial park.”
“P & Z commissioners should look forward to hearing from people about how rezonings will affect them,” said Kathleen Henry, attorney at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. “Commissioners won’t know the effects of rezonings if they don’t allow people to speak.”
In a ruling issued May 15, 2018, the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri held that the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission deprived people of due process by not allowing them to speak before voting. People have a right to have their voices heard!
Residents are breathing a sigh of relief today, knowing that construction of the concrete plant has been halted, and this looming threat to the air quality and their health is not moving forward.
Congratulations on your victory. It’s surprising that the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Board has been found to have violated procedural due process twice by Missouri’s appellate courts. I hope that the Board will follow the law in the future.
Thanks, Harry! We hope so, too!
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