County Road 42 faces another detourDelayed for years by legal battles, the Douglas County Road 42/34/11 expansion project could face another court-ordered detour.
By: Mike Enright, Alexandria Echo Press
Delayed for years by legal battles, the Douglas County Road 42/34/11 expansion project could face another court-ordered detour.
The Lake Carlos Area Association announced plans Monday to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to consider the case, citing insufficient environmental review by the county.
On September 2, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled against the LCAA, agreeing with the county that an in-depth investigation known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was not needed to proceed with construction.
In a letter to the editor in today’s Echo Press, LCAA President Steve Eisele said the organization is appealing to the state’s highest court on the grounds that because County Road 42 is a multi-phased project Douglas County should have studied possible environmental impacts for each phase of construction.
But the county only reviewed potential effects for one phase, he said.
“We do not believe that the requirements of Minnesota environmental law have been met and we are now going to ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the matter,” Eisele wrote.
When contacted Monday, Ken Bayliss, the county’s attorney on the matter, said he had not heard about the LCAA’s plans to appeal.
That is the group’s right, he said, but there’s no guarantee the court will grant the request.
According to its annual report, last year the Minnesota Supreme Court received 642 petitions for further review. It accepted 68.
“The decision of the [Minnesota] Court of Appeals was well written and well-reasoned,” Bayliss said. “That makes it all the more unlikely it will be selected for review.”
He said he didn’t think the petition would in any way delay the project, set to break ground next spring.
Dave Robley, director of Douglas County Public Works, also said he didn’t believe construction would be affected, though he’s not surprised by the LCAA’s appeal.
Originally set to begin in 2005, the project stalled when the LCAA filed a citizen’s petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, threatening a lawsuit if the county didn’t comply.
The county initially opposed the idea, but relented before the issue went to trial.
Following the EAW, the lake association took the county to court to try and force an EIS, but it was shot down first by district court and most recently the state Court of Appeals.
“They keep throwing up hurdles,” Robley said, “and we keep jumping over them.”