Taxpayers day in court for writ of mandamus

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus


Houston County taxpayers Donna Buckbee, Susan van Gorp, Chad Oness, Steve Hartwick, Bruce Kuehmichel, Lorraine Culver and Jackie Baker, have filed a writ of mandamus against Houston County and its entire board of commissioners.

The trial, which took place on June 23, will be covered in more detail next week as information was not available in time for our deadline.

Citizens filed a writ of mandamus with the court, which was signed by a judge on Monday, June 2.

Essentially, a writ of mandamus is a process for asking a judge to order the government to follow the law. The writ requires the county to declare that the original Erickson mine permit has expired, that it cannot be renewed, and that if a new permit is applied for, it is subject to the county moratorium on silica sand mining and to all relevant state law.

There is a moratorium on silica sand mining in Houston County until March 2015.

State law would require the site to receive a DNR silica sand mining trout stream setback Permit, which takes over a year to apply for and includes tough standards. Because the Erickson site is within one mile of a designated trout stream, no silica sand mining may take place there unless the DNR decides to grant this special permit, the writ alleges.

The petitioners are each taxpayers of Houston County and are otherwise adversely affected.

The hearing took place before Judge Robert Birnbaum in courtroom #3 of the Winona County Courthouse.

It was originally scheduled to be held on June 6 in Houston County, but was pushed back due to scheduling conflicts.