ALTON — The owner of a sometimes troubled Alton quarry has filed suit in circuit court, challenging the city’s decision to deny the owner a business license.
Lippold Construction Co., owned by Eugene Lippold, claims the city’s decision is contrary to a contract, which allowed the quarry operations to continue, even though the business occupied certain city property.
The Alton official named in the suit is Alderman Jim Ryan, who was acting in his role as mayor pro tem when hearings were held in the matter.
Lippold said he wants to continue quarry operations in the quarry, which has, on occasion, resulted in complaints that the rocks from the quarry blasts end up on other people’s property, and, at least once, in a neighbor’s home.
The body of a young man was found inside the quarry in February 2012. There was no evidence that the quarry operator was at fault, but relatives said the man liked to stand near the quarry to watch the operations.
Lippold said in his suit that he had operated the quarry beginning in 2003. He said the city agreed to a contract to allow the quarry operations into the future.
“By that same contract the city agreed to vacate certain platted, but undeveloped and unused right-of-way,” the suit claims.
There was a period in which Lippold sold to another operator, but Lippold regained ownership of the quarry after winning a lawsuit over details of the purchase.
Lippold’s suit claims the company applied for a business license in January 2013 to resume quarry operations. Meanwhile, city officials and both quarry owners have been discussing the concept of using the quarry as a landfill for certain construction materials and other items, other than household garbage.
The landfill operation would cause the quarry operation to cease, but the city could earn revenue from “tipping fees.” An agreement on the landfill idea is pending.
City Treasurer Cynthia A. Roth denied the request for the business license on Nov. 13. Business licenses customarily fall under the city treasurer office’s authority.
“The city denied the license request arguing for the first time that the longstanding, historic quarry operations were trespassing on some portion of an undeveloped city right-of-way, that the city had contractually agreed to vacate,” the suit alleges.
Lippold filed an appeal of the city’s decision, and the matter went to a hearing, which happened to be chaired by Ryan in the absence of Mayor Brant Walker.
The city found against Lippold on the basis of the trespassing issue. The suit is asking the court to review the city’s decision.
Lippold claims the city had no valid evidence of trespassing. The suit claims that the city erred in finding the trespassing claim, despite evidence to the contrary.
Lippold is represented by Gregory Mollett of St. Louis. City officials could not be reached for comment.
Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-463-2558 or Twitter @sanfordjschmidt.