BUTTE - Developers of the Basin Creek solar panel project appealed the Butte zoning board’s decision to deny their special use permit to build a solar panel farm.
Judge Luke Berger listened to oral arguments made by lawyers representing the Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board of Adjustment and Gozden-McDermott Cattle Company, LLC and FX solution, INC, who are petitioning the board’s decision to deny their permit request.
The petitioners are asking the court to reverse the board of adjustments decision and grant the special use permit because the Zoning board made the decision on, what the developers say, 2 out of 18 criteria that should have been considered.
"We’re asking you to do that because it’s our position the board abused its discretion and really only focused on two factors that they were duty-bound to focus on or consider and I’ve termed those public opposition," said Peter Lacny, the lawyer for the petitioners.
Abuse of discretion means that the Zoning board acted in a manner that was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unethical when making their decision.
Joseph Casillas, representing the petitioners, says the zoning board ballots provided poorly written reasons that referenced public opposition and personal feelings rather than objective facts.
"What the board did here was create literally an impossible standard for a special use applicant for any kind of project like this could ever be approved because you’re always going to have public opposition," said Casillas.
Sean Peterson, representing the zoning board, argued that the board considered all criteria when it came to the sheer size of the project.
"That’s not a factor. It affects every one of the factors, but once again relevant under the other stature. So, you’re honor we do believe that the zoning board of adjustment did act within their discretion." said Peterson.
Judge Berger has taken the matter under advisement and will give a written ruling soon.