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Appeals court overturns Coon Creek decision

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 4, 2011
— The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has reversed a Rock County judge's decision that prohibited the town of Beloit from revoking a hunt club's conditional-use permit.

Coon Creek Sportsmans Club's permit will remain in place until the court of appeals' decision is processed in Rock County Court, Beloit Town Board Chairman Dave Townsend said.


At that time, the permit will be revoked, and Coon Creek will have to reapply, Townsend said.


The permit would have expired at the end of June, Townsend said.


The Beloit Town Board in January 2010 revoked the permit for the club at 4605 St. Lawrence Ave. in Beloit Township.


The club operator and owner, Mike Toubl and Roger Bryden, sued for an injunction, which would have stopped the town from taking the operating permit away. The town then sued for an injunction to prohibit the club from operating.


The club is west of the city of Beloit and offers private or guided game bird hunts. The club's permit has long been a point of contention in the township and the focus of several heated public hearings and town board discussions.


Central to the argument was the hunt club's clubhouse, a former agricultural shed where hunters met for safety training and cleaned birds.


The clubhouse was part of the first conditional-use permit the town issued in January 2007. The building was destroyed by fire in September 2007.


In April 2008, the town renewed the conditional-use permit and added restrictions in order to make peace between the club and its neighbors, who regularly complained about noise.


After the permit was renewed but before club owners signed it, Bryden applied for a building permit to construct a new building on a different parcel of his property, court documents state.


Administrator Bob Museus told the hunt club it would have to change the conditional-use permit in order to use the new building as a clubhouse.


Although the old shed was allowed not to conform to the town's ordinance, a new clubhouse would have required a parking lot and restroom facility, among other things, court documents state.


Bryden and Toubl said they would not use the shed as a hunt club, and the permit was issued for an agricultural building.


Town officials said they observed the new shed being used as a hunt club, and Toubl in March 2009 was issued municipal citations for failing to comply with zoning ordinances and failing to comply with a conditional-use permit.


Rock County Judge James Welker in April 2010 ruled in favor of Coon Creek and granted the injunction against the town. He also dismissed the town's injunction suit against Coon Creek.


Welker agreed with the club's attorney that the town acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it revoked the permit. He called town officials arrogant.


The appeals court disagreed with the decision that the town acted arbitrarily.


"We conclude the evidence supports only one conclusion: that the board acted reasonably and not arbitrarily in revoking the CUP," online court documents state.



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