The Nebraska Court of Appeals has stopped a dairy expansion in its tracks.

On Tuesday the appeals court ruled that the Antelope County Board and Planning Commission held an illegal public meeting with dairy producers Chad and Todd teVelde before granting the go ahead for the dairy’s expansion two years ago. The information-sharing meeting was held to give board members more details about the dairy’s proposed wastewater system and answer questions that had been raised. However, because the meeting was not announced and the public was not invited it was an “illegal public meeting” and therefore information gained from that hearing cannot be used by the board to make a decision.

In his ruling, Appeals Court Judge Everett Inbody wrote that since the problem "cannot be cured," a permanent injunction should be entered against approving the dairy's third application.

The dairy has met stiff opposition on their expansion due to their close proximity to a unique trout stream and to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s trout-rearing facility in northeast Nebraska. Opponents of the expansion said the dairy would leak manure into the stream and pollute it killing the trout. However, the wastewater system developed for the expansion exceeded state environmental standards.

The teVelde’s moved to Nebraska from California and purchased a small dairy near Royal. Then in 1999 they applied for a permit to expand and modernize the dairy. The plan was to take the dairy from 150 animals to 700 animals.

With the ruling it is unclear if the $1.8 million facility built by Summerhill Dairy can ever be used.

The dairy's attorney, Mark A. Johnson of Norfolk, told the Omaha World Herald that “he needed to examine the decision more thoroughly to determine if another application could be filed.” In addition, he did not know if his clients would reapply or seek a review of the ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Omaha World Herald