Trom lawsuit court date rescheduled for Feb. 16
A court date for the parties in Lowell and Evelyn Trom’s lawsuit against Dodge County and Masching Swine Farms that was originally set for Feb. 2 has been rescheduled to Feb. 16.
Attorneys for the parties will be back in court before Judge Joseph Chase in Olmsted County at 9 a.m. as the judge hears motions for a summary judgment from all three parties.
The case is filed in Dodge County but being held in Chase’s courtroom in Rochester, as Dodge County District Court Judge Jodi Williamson removed herself from the case at the request of the county. Williamson had issued the ruling in an earlier case brought by the Trom’s against the same defendants.
The Troms, who live in Westfield Township, filed suit in Dodge County District Court a year ago against the county and Masching’s Swine Farms, asking that the judge vacate the conditional use permit that the county gave to Masching to construct a hog feedlot on property adjacent to the Troms.
The Troms had originally filed suit in 2014 to vacate the permit. In late 2014, Williamson ruled that necessary information had not been included in Masching’s application and that the permit should be vacated. She also ruled, however, that Masching could reapply and if the required items were included in the application it could be granted.
Masching reapplied with additional information and the permit again granted.
In January of 2015, the Troms filed to appeal the county’s decision for a second time, alleging the county did not hold a fair hearing on the complete application and did not take a hard look at all the relevant issues.
At the request of the county, Williamson removed herself from the case and it was assigned to Olmsted Chase.
When the current suit was originally filed, James Peters, attorney for the Troms, said the Troms were denied a fair and impartial hearing as required by Minnesota law at a special meeting conducted by the Dodge County Planning and Zoning Commission.
He also said that Melissa DeVetter, the county’s zoning administrator, had acted as an advocate for the project and that the county had approved the conditional use permit without analyzing the manure management plan associated with the project.
In February, Dodge County made changes to the ordinance regarding approval of feedlot permits and in April, Peters asked that the Troms original complaint could be amended to include the county’s changes to the ordinance. At the same time, the county asked that the Troms’ suit be thrown out because of errors in serving the papers on the county.
Last summer, Chase ruled that an amended complaint could not be filed, and that the suit must continue under the original complaint. He also ruled that any errors made in serving the papers did not affect the county’s ability to defend against the suit.
The motions for summary judgment now filed with the court are in response to that original complaint. All three motions include a Memorandum of Law detailing each side’s reasons for the judge to rule in their favor.
Peters asked that the Troms’ motion is granted, and the conditional use permit granted to Masching Swine Farms is once again vacated. Motions filed by Paul Reuvers, representing Dodge County, and Jack Perry and Maren Grier, representing Masching Swine Farms, ask that the county’s action be affirmed.
After hearing the verbal arguments next week, Chase will take the case under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date.