Anti-smelter group hires top legal gun

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Semanko

NEWPORT — Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter have retained the services of Rathdrum native and former head of the Idaho Republican Party, Norm Semanko. The attorney who works for Parsons, Behle, and Latimer in Boise is representing CANSS in a legal action designed to thwart the construction of HiTest Sand’s silicon smelter plant in Newport.

Semanko released a Dec. 21 letter to Pend Oreille County Community Development Director Greg Snow requesting that the rezone of the HiTest smelter site from public lands to industrial be considered separately from other rezoning efforts in the community. Semanko also urged that the proposed HiTest property receive the highest level of scrutiny, and that meetings on its fate be held in Newport rather than Cusick.

“While HiTest may expect to receive expedited consideration for its rezone request, due process requires that the application not receive special treatment.” He added, “It is beyond dispute that a site specific rezone ­— such as the one requested by HiTest — requires Class 4 review by the Planning Commission and a decision by the Board of County Commissioners, along with the associated public process.”

Semanko said Dec. 26 that “CANSS is evaluating all possible legal avenues. This letter raises only procedural issues regarding Pend Oreille County’s process. We will address the substance of HiTest’s request to site an industrial facility on property that is currently zoned for Public Lands once the actual permit applications required by the County are submitted.”

County clerk Rhonda Cary said Dec. 26 that a rezoning request has not yet been placed on the county commission’s agenda.

CANSS spokesman Michael Naylor said, “The CANSS group interviewed a number of attorneys and law firms. CANSS board selected Norm because we felt his law firm was well suited to represent CANSS.”

Semanko explained that his firm has extensive experience in land use and zoning issues. He himself was part of reversing a land use decision by the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners, and he has taken part in similar matters before the Idaho Supreme Court and as city council president in Eagle, Idaho. His colleagues licensed in Washington State also have relevant experience, he added.

CANSS chairman Debbie Barker said there are four ways people can contribute to the CANSS Legal Fund. Interested persons may donate via GoFundMe at gofundme.com/stopthesmelter, via PayPal at newportareasmelter.com/donate.html, by check, CANSS at P.O. Box 1347, Newport, WA 99156, or at Spokane Teachers Credit Union. Please request the bank representative to make a note that it is for the ‘Legal Fund.’ Barker said

Information: CANSS at nasmelter@gmail.com

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