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Judge: Town board had no right to pull sportsmans club’s permit

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 30, 2010
— It came down to a port-o-potty.

Rock County Judge James Welker on Thursday ruled the town of Beloit had no right to revoke a conditional-use permit for the Coon Creek Sportsmans Club. The club will continue to operate under the terms of the permit as if it hadn’t been revoked, town attorney Bill Henderson said.


The club, operated by Mike Toubl, filed for a restraining order after the town board in January revoked the club’s conditional-use permit. The board did so because Toubl in 2009 was found guilty in municipal court on two counts of failing to comply with the permit.


According to police records, Toubl was using a building on the property as a clubhouse where hunters changed clothes, learned about club safety rules and dressed pheasants. The building only was permitted for agricultural use such as storing equipment, town officials have said.


But Welker on Thursday said the conditional-use permit required the use of a portable toilet. That requirement meant the town assumed the building would be used as a clubhouse, Welker said.


“The town intended in the issuing for the building to be used in part as a clubhouse,” Welker said. “Otherwise, that provision would be meaningless.”


Shortly after the club filed for its restraining order in January, the town filed for its own restraining order, arguing it needed to be allowed to enforce its own ordinances.


Welker in February allowed the club to keep operating at least until Thursday’s trial.


Welker’s brief decision came after hours of testimony from at least nine witnesses. The town’s actions were arbitrary and contrary to the law, Welker said.


The ordinance the town cited when permitting the business was so vague that residents couldn’t understand it on their own, Welker said. That vagueness forced residents to come to the town for clarification, he said.


Welker described that practice as the most arrogant he’s heard of since Louis XIV said, “I am the state.”


COON CREEK SPORTSMANS CLUB TIMELINE

July 2007—The Beloit Town Board approves a conditional-use permit for Coon Creek Sportsmans Club. The permit is necessary because the club operates commercial hunting in an agricultural zone, town officials say.


September 2007—A fire destroys the clubhouse at Coon Creek. The fire still is under investigation. The fire was “probably due to arson,” Town Administrator Bob Museus wrote in a 2009 memo to the town board.


March 2008—The town renews Coon Creek’s permit. Property owner Roger Bryden gets permission to construct a new building, which he says the club will not use.


March 2009—Town of Beloit police cite Coon Creek operator Mike Toubl for failing to comply with zoning ordinances and failing to comply with a conditional-use permit. He is accused of using the building as a clubhouse.


October—2009 Toubl is found guilty in Town of Beloit Municipal Court of the charges and pays $218 in fines.


January 2010—The Beloit Town Board revokes Coon Creek’s conditional-use permit. Toubl and Bryden file for a restraining order against the town.


February 2010—Rock County Judge James Welker allows Cook Creek to operate despite the fact that the town filed for a restraining order to enforce the revocation.


April 2010—Welker grants Coon Creek’s application for a restraining order. That allows the business to operate as it did before the permit was revoked.



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