Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, June 12, 2000

Wright board okays rezoning, lives up to lawsuit settlement

By John Holler

In April, Wright County settled a pending lawsuit with Randy's Sanitation of Delano, which avoided costly continued litigation, but didn't end the matter.

As part of the county's settlement, in addition to a considerable cash payment to Randy's Sanitation, the county agreed to give the company's request for a rezoning to handle a waste transfer station a "fair hearing."

At the time, the term "fair" was discussed, because it was felt by many that anything other than a blanket approval of the rezoning request wouldn't be considered fair and would allow the lawsuit to again take effect and continue through the court system.

At the June 6 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners gave Randy's Sanitation what it wanted - a fair hearing and approval of its rezoning request, creating a new Waste Handling and Disposal District.

While the approval didn't come easy - there were several constraints put on the proposal and its size was limited to only two acres - Planning and Zoning Administrator Tom Salkowski said it met the conditions set forth as part of settling the litigation.

"The settlement of the lawsuit had some very specific recommendations," Salkowski said. "We made every effort to make sure this is a very unique situation that will never happen again."

Final approval wasn't easy either.

First, Commissioner Pat Sawatzke had one of the specific recommendations removed - a finding that the transfer station would supply additional jobs in Wright County and keep Randy's Sanitation competitive in the industry. Sawatzke said that should not be a criterion for making a zoning change.

Even the final vote was hard to get done, as three commissioners voted in favor of the rezoning, one voted against it, and one abstained.

Board Chair Dick Mattson voted no on the rezoning because he felt that, despite assurance from Salkowski that this was a unique situation, it set a precedent for other areas of the county to make similar requests and, if denied, lead to future lawsuits.

Sawatzke abstained from the vote, citing that he wasn't comfortable voting on the matter until he saw the finding of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

However, with a five-member board, only three have to vote in favor of an item to pass it, so the rezoning was granted and likely is the end of a long and expensive piece of litigation for the county.

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