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Helga Township farmer fights local zoning board

Hubbard County District Court Judge Robert Tiffany has signed a Temporary Restraining Order against a Helga Township farmer who claims his only transgression was to try to make rocky land tillable.

Douglas A. Crosby and and Reierson Construction have been enjoined from excavating and removing any earthen materials until a hearing can be held on whether to make the injunction permanent.

"All we want him to do is get a permit," said township attorney Troy Gilchrist, who maintains the case is being blown out of proportion.

Gilchrist said Crosby placed a trailer on the property, then started building a home, both without permits.

Crosby has used the TRO as a mini cause celebre, publicly inviting people to next week's township meeting while maintaining the town's zoning board is using draconian methods to prevent him from farming.

He's stirred up a lot of interest in the case. Earlier this week one of his supporters wrote a letter to the editor suggesting the township zoning board was interpreting the statute far too broadly in a deliberate attempt to penalize Crosby.

Tiffany signed the TRO July 6. Crosby's land is pock-marked with boulders and rocks that he wants to strip from the land so he can put the property into crop production.

Because of the large size of the rocks, Crosby maintained he had to retain the services of an excavation company,

Crosby, meanwhile, had filed several open records requests with the township to look at its history of dealing with zoning issues.

He has fought the township over production of those records. Gilchrist said the matter would be handled in the litigation.

"Just stick to the facts and this will be an awesome story about the stalling of information by a Town Board," Crosby said in an e-mail to the Enterprise.

"Notice the constraints they try to put on me.....It is illegal for them to not divulge what information they won't give me due to provace (sic) reasons.  They have to state what it is about and why they are withholding it and how it meets the criteria to be withheld under the statute," Crosby said.

Gilchrist said Crosby is actually running a gravel pit on the land, hauling "truck after truck" of materials to a Nymore construction site. The Crosby property is not zoned for commercial use, he said.

Gilchrist said he's not sure what will occur at the meeting or whether the case will even come up.

The meeting is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the township hall.

The hearing on a permanent restraining order will be sometime in August.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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