Montezuma County has won a district-court ruling in its favor in a lawsuit involving a hotly disputed waste facility near Hovenweep National Monument.
District Judge Sharon Hansen issued a ruling Dec. 23 stating that the county was justified in denying a special-use permit and a high-impact permit for the proposed facility by Four Corners Recycling Systems and its owners, brothers Casey and Kelly McClellan.
In the two-page ruling, Hansen wrote, “The decision of the MCBCC [Montezuma County Board of County Commissioners] was not arbitrary; it was supported by competent evidence in the Record to support their decision to deny the High Impact Permit.”
The commissioners had voted 2-1 to deny the permits after an all-day public hearing on June 1, 2009. A month later, they issued formal findings of fact to support their decision. The McClellans had appealed the inclusion of those subsequent findings in the case, but Hansen allowed them to be included, noting in her ruling then that this was not an uncommon occurrence in such proceedings.
In the Dec. 23 ruling, Hansen said that the state law that allows for judicial review of “quasi-judicial” decisions by governmental bodies limits that review to “a determination of whether the body or officer has exceeded its jurisidiction or abused its discretion. . .” Citing other cases statewide, Hansen wrote that a reviewing court must uphold the decision of the governmental entity “unless there is no competent evidence in the record to support it.”