Weld County: Judge Challenges Commissioners

In August 2015 the Board of County Commissioners approved a special use permit allowing Martin Marietta to build an asphalt plant off of US 34 and Weld County Road 13. A nearby HOA and few other individuals and businesses (including a business called Motherlove Herbal Company) appealed the decision. On August 9 Weld District Court judge ordered the Commissioners to provide more information explaining the basis for the decision.

In the Order of Remand Judge Todd Taylor gave the Board 63 days to make its findings and certify them as part of the record. He said the evidence does not warrant automatic approval of the special use permit. Judge Taylor also noted staff and the Planning Commission recommended denial of the application saying it was inconsistent with the Weld County Comprehensive Code. In his review of case law, the judge said the lack of factual findings isn’t necessarily fatal to the decision as long as there is sufficient evidence in the record to support its decision. However, the judge argued the Commissioners made no findings of fact in the resolution approving the permit.

This is an interesting case. The fact that staff and the Planning Commission recommended denial does not mean the Commissioners will be forced to rescind their decision, but they will need to provide a better rationale for it. It is understandable that neighbors oppose the development. However, the property owners also have a right to develop the parcel, which is conveniently located adjacent to US 34 and a rail line. It’s unusual for a land use case to end up in litigation but it could encourage more residents to challenge development decisions if the neighbors are successful in stopping the development of the asphalt plant.

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