Goliath, 0; David, 1: Judge finds in favor of Bridgewater Twp

There’s a brief writeup on the Northfield News website: Judge Rules Against ABE in Ethanol Plant Suit; Court says zoning ordinance is OK (look for story in Wednesday’s Northfield News print edition).

In his ruling, received by the township Monday, Wolf dismissed most of the charges made by ABE. They included:

  • The township exceeded its rights in legislating a comprehensive planning and zoning ordinance to prohibit ethanol production;
  • The ordinance was ineffective due to the township’s failure to present the ordinance to residents for a vote; and
  • The timing of adoption of the ordinance was improper, and the township failed to give adequate notice of public hearings.



  1. BruceWMorlan said:

    One for the people. As much as I like and believe in property rights, this one has come out the way it had to if we are to set out on a path toward truly sustainable living conditions in this area. The city and the township should both be celebrating. I look forward to being at the township meeting tonight, I expect a certain amount of euphoria.

    January 8, 2008
  2. Patrick Enders said:

    Fabulous news!

    January 8, 2008
  3. Holly Cairns said:

    Good work Bridgewater Township (and Stephanie!)

    Last night I drove through Winthrop and, yuck, the plant’s smell made me sick. It was GROSS

    I felt sorry for the folks who lived across the street. They must have had a near pristine view, and then boom– a metal, city-like place moves in, and right across the street. The steam/whatever is given off hung low in the air and headed right at that neighbor’s house. The house was lost in the steam (and the smell!)

    Bridgewateer– Hopefully you don’t have to contend withall of that, after all.

    But we do need alternative forms of energy. Who’s up for finding the enzyme that will help break down cellulose?

    And move the plant farther south into the largely industrial area there now?

    January 8, 2008
  4. Jane Moline said:

    This is definitely news to celebrate–but with a cautionary tale. Part of the issue is what defines “Ag use.” A big industrial plant spewing smells and consuming all of our ground water should not be agricultural.

    But then, the way of large industrial farms is also offensive to many. I think we should be worrying about the big picture here–do our current regulations guarantee that living in the country is going to be pleasant? Or will there be “safe havens” like Bridgewater Township where the township board has to protect the township from what the county would allow?

    All of us–living in and out of the city should be concerned about these issues, as they affect our quality of life. Some of the agricultural practices of today–including (especially) huge swine facilities–were not anticipated when counties set out their feedlot rules. The Holden farms purchase of a facility where the neighbors were misled so that the seller could obtain a feedlot permit (for his son, so he claimed) and then sell to Holdens is an example.

    If we did not have Stephanie raising the alarm bells for us, we would be in a tough spot–thanks Stephanie for your years and years of public service. Please let us know where the county is on their feedlot ordinance, as we need to let our commisioners know of our concerns.

    I have lived in Dundas for almost 30 years, and most of that time I considered our life “rural.” I am not against normal farming practices, which means that sometimes farmers spread manure on the fields and when the wind is right we get a strong dose–I am against the large scale farming operations that render surrounding properties worthless.

    January 8, 2008
  5. Felicity Enders said:

    That’s great news – congrats to Bridgewater!

    January 8, 2008
  6. BruceWMorlan said:

    The most dangerous 20 minutes of a bear hunt are the 20 minutes between when you kill the bear and the time he realizes he’s dead.

    Last night I suggested that the Bridgewater township board must remain diligent; this bear might be down, but not out. Meanwhile, the railroad was lurking in the background ready to grab that land for a multimodal facility (think parking lot levels of lighting and many more daily trucks than the ethanol plant would have brought). Dundas recently got caught with its ordinances down and now has to endure yet another billboard because the planning commission was too focused on other issues, thinking the current sign ordinances blocked new billboards. A lawyer thought differently and now we have a new billboard. Wise people learn from other’s mistakes, I hope we all are learning …

    January 9, 2008
  7. Congratulations on a job well done, to the Township for doing the right thing and doing it carefully, and to Stephanie Henricksen for applying all her knowledge, connections and tenacity to rally residents and elected officials to stand up against ABE. Stephanie is often villified in this community, by those who oppose her efforts (and stand to gain from whatever harebrained project proposed) and by those who have no idea the intense work she does to protect our community, our environment, and to gain enforcement of laws enacted to do the same. Now’s the time to thank her, don’t just wait until you see her, take the time to tell her personally. From my own experience, I know these struggles take a lot of energy, and a heartfelt THANKS does a lot to recharge advocates’ batteries.

    January 9, 2008
  8. Way to go! Stephanie does deserve our thanks. Thank you! I think most leaders in Bridgewater Township knew the case was baseless, even if they didn’t (or couldn’t – because of issues of legal propriety) say so publicly.

    January 9, 2008

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