A group opposed to a crude-oil refinery in Union County, S.D., has no legal standing to challenge the action, but one of the group's members can continue the fight.
Circuit Judge Steven Jensen said Save Union County cannot stay in the fray because it owns no land that would be affected by the proposed $10 billion Hyperion Resources refinery.
Ed Cable, who owns land about three miles away, was allowed to proceed with his opposition to a zoning change from agricultural to an industrial use.
"Obviously, we're pleased that they didn't dismiss," Cable said Thursday. "We knew it was filed appropriately. It took a long time, but we're glad they took the time to review things carefully.
"The next step is to schedule a hearing in the next few days," he added. "We were already prepared for a hearing; we're prepared to fight it."
Cable argues that rezoning the land for a refinery does not comply with the county master plan adopted in 2005, which lists preservation of farmland as a major goal.
Cable also said the rezoned area is crossed by two township roads and a county road, and no public right of way can be affected by a zone change without a public hearing. In addition, Hyperion requested a zone change on land it does not control, he said.
The Union County Commission rezoned 3,882 acres of agricultural land for an oil refinery and power plant that Dallas-based Hyperion Resources wants to build. It would turn Canadian tar sands crude oil into gasoline and diesel for Midwest markets.
"We're not a party to the suit, so we won't be commenting," Hyperion spokesman Eric Williams said.
The county sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that as a group, Save Union County could not bring the appeal because the organization does not own land in the county. Jensen agreed. Save Union County is a limited liability company, or LLC.
The county also successfully argued that it was too late for the opponents to add four people to the appeal.
"Basically, the LLC does not have standing, and it's too late to add parties," said Save Union County's lawyer James Abourezk of Sioux Falls. "But the important thing is, we're still in court."
"It's clear in what the court ruled that the burden is still with Mr. Cable," said Jerry Miller, Union County state's attorney.
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