Recently, a BfP member asked several questions regarding our three lawsuits: Legacy Ranch which, as you know, we won, and the two still pending: Grantsdale Addition and Blood Lane (Wal-Mart). I thought I’d send out the answers to the entire membership, post on Facebook and the website.
Q: When will there be a decision regarding the B4P request to have the (Grantsdale Addition) permit voided (as noted in the August 15 posting “Update on Grantsdale groundwater discharge permit”).
A: Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 24 in Helena. The case was filed in Lewis and Clark County because the defendant in the case, Department of Environmental Quality, is based there. Oral arguments are scheduled for 2 p.m. Several board members will likely be there, and members, of course, are invited and encouraged to attend.
Q: What is the status of the Blood Lane issue? Has the court process begun?
Oral arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 23, again in Helena, for the same reason as above.
Q: And is it truly the end of Legacy Ranch since the July 31 court ruling that nullified county approval of it? And will the county have to pay B4P’s court costs since they lost?
A: The county commission has met twice since the court decision to discuss the possibility of an appeal, but they’ve made no decision. The developers, Sunnyside Orchards, LLC, were also defendants in the case, but they have not filed an appeal. I believe this ends the case. Of course, if we hear anything different you’ll know right away.
The question regarding fees is more complicated. Court fees are not automatically awarded to the prevailing party in a civil case. The prevailing party’s attorney must petition the court for fees, but can do so only under certain circumstances. Here is the pertinent sentence from the petition: “An award of fees is appropriate when litigants serve the public interest by holding government bodies accountable to statutes that vindicate important public rights.”
Our attorney filed a petition for fees in August, but no court hearing date has been scheduled as of yet. I’ve attached the petition to this email, so you can read it for yourself. When we know more, we’ll let the membership know.
Thank you for your questions.
Carlotta Grandstaff for BfP