Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 11, 1999

Wright County proceeding with landfill lawsuit

By John Holler

One of Wright County's primary contentions about its ongoing legal battle with Superior Services Inc., the owner of FCR Landfill, has been that it wouldn't buckle to the corporate giant simply because Superior can afford to fight a legal battle.

At the Oct. 5 meeting of Wright County Board it became just how resolved the county is to fight Superior - to the state Supreme Court.

As part of the board's agenda, it approved payment of legal services to the firm of Briggs & Morgan for $13,600, bringing the county's payments to the firm to nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Board Chair Pat Sawatzke defended the decision to proceed saying that, despite the odds being against the county that the High Court will even hear the case, the time devoted to writing a five-page brief is worth the expense if it means the county can defend its right to zoning within its borders.

"We all know a lot of money has been spent with these lawsuits," Sawatzke said. "We haven't been starting them, we've been defending them. This board believes we're right in this matter and the cost of taking it the next step isn't as much as some would have you believe. The time to write a five-page document isn't that much."

However, Commissioner Ken Jude, who has consistently opposed continuing the legal fight with Superior - not because he disagrees with the rest of the board, but feels the cost isn't worth the futility the county has witnessed in court - reiterated his point at the meeting, saying the county should let it go and admit defeat.

"Superior may have won the first case on a technicality that wasn't envisioned at first, but they won," Jude said. "We appealed the case and the appeals court agreed with the original decision. They didn't even comment on it. It was a slam dunk. We hadn't written the ordinance right, according to both judges. We can't go back and change it. It's over. Why we continue to beat this dead horse is beyond me. We're already over a quarter-million (dollars) fighting it. We can't keep throwing money away."

The board approved the payment by a 4-1 vote, with Jude voting against it. Briggs & Morgan will write up the brief to present to the Supreme Court at its next session. Jude stated that the High Court only hears about 5 percent of the cases petitioned to it, so said he'll continue to fight any more payments going out fighting the matter.

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