Lawrence County voters said no Tuesday to a new quarry in Centennial Valley, between Spearfish and Whitewood. In a referendum vote, 1,103 Lawrence County residents voted to overturn a conditional use permit issued for a gravel quarry last June, while only 646 voted to support the CUP. The 1,103 No votes was about the same as the number of people who signed the referendum petition in the first place. Overall turnout was a meager 11%.
Jilted quarrier Mountain View Ranches isn’t taking this voter rejection sitting down. They’re going to court:
CUP applicant Eric Hoffman, an agent of Mountain View Ranches, said the ballot was not and is not the proper venue to determine an individual’s property rights.
“An illegal election has taken place with an unconstitutional result,” Hoffman said. “As such, I will file a protest to contest this CUP 436 referendum vote” [Jaci Conrad Pearson, “Constituents Say ‘No’ to Centennial Valley Quarry CUP in Referendum Vote,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2016.08.31].
Um, SDCL 11-2-22 says the ballot is an appropriate venue for determining an individual’s right to use property in ways that don’t conform with normal zoning rules. As much as I respect individual property rights, I recognize that we have zoning ordinances to ensure that one person’s use of his property does not create externalities that infringe too much on neighbors’ use of their property. We have conditional use permits to allow exceptions when neighbors agree to a non-zoned use. If enough neighbors are alarmed by externalities, they have the right to put conditional uses to a vote.