United States of America
Permits, Injunctive Relief, Land Use, Constitutional, Remedies
The decision brings to an end a six-year legal battle between Larson Acres, Inc., a fifth-generation family dairy farm in Evansville, Wisconsin, the Town of Magnolia in Rock County, and various intervenors. In the present case, the Town attempted to impose additional siting standards beyond those properly promulgated in state rules by approving Larson’s conditional use permit and including conditions unrelated to the uniform state siting standards. Larson challenged those additional conditions to the Siting Review Board, which found that the Town should have granted the conditional use permit without the additional conditions. The Town appealed the Siting Review Board’s decision, arguing first that the Town was authorized to impose all of the conditions and, alternatively, that the Siting Review Board lacked the authority to reverse individual conditions. According to the Town, the Siting Review Board’s only two options were to uphold the conditional use permit in total or to reverse the conditional use permit and send the matter back to the Town Board. Larson disagreed and argued to the Court that the Town overstepped its authority by imposing conditions not allowed by the Siting Law. Larson also defended the Siting Review Board’s decision to reverse individual improper conditions, noting that to confine the Siting Review Board to only two options, wholesale approval or wholesale reversal of the conditional use permit, would frustrate the underlying legislative purpose of the Siting Law. The Supreme Court agreed with Larson, noting that one of the purposes of the Siting Law was to provide for speedy approval of proper siting applications. It summed up its decision this way: “The [Siting Review] Board acted properly. . . . [T]he Town committed the initial error that the Siting Board was required by law to rectify.” The Court also confirmed that the state Livestock Facility Siting Review Board properly reversed individual conditions imposed by the Town. This decision confirms that the purpose of the siting law is to provide statewide, uniform siting standards and that the Siting Review Board is authorized to correct improper local decisions.