82-4-427. Hearing -- appeal -- venue. (1) (a) Subject to subsections (1)(b) and (1)(c), a person whose interests are or may be adversely affected by a final decision of the department to approve or disapprove a permit application and accompanying material or a permit amendment application and accompanying material under this part is entitled to a hearing before the board if a written request stating the reasons for the appeal is submitted to the board within 30 days of the department's decision.
(b) If an application was noticed publicly as required by this part, to be eligible to file for an appeal a person must have either submitted comments to the department on an application or submitted comments at a public meeting held under 82-4-432.
(c) Subsection (1)(b) does not apply to a person filing for an appeal of an application that was not required to be noticed publicly by this part.
(2) An operator may request a hearing before the board on:
(a) a final decision of the department director pursuant to 82-4-436(4) by submitting a request for a hearing within 15 days of receipt of notice of the director's decision; and
(b) an order of suspension or revocation issued under 82-4-442 by filing a request for hearing within 30 days of receipt of the decision.
(3) The operator or the landowner may request a hearing before the board on a decision on a bond release application by submitting a written request stating the reasons for the appeal within 30 days of the receipt of the decision.
(4) The contested case provisions of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, apply to a hearing held under this section.
(5) A petition for judicial review of a board decision made pursuant to this section must be brought in the county in which the permitted activity is proposed to occur. If an activity is proposed to occur in more than one county, the action may be brought in any of the counties in which the activity is proposed to occur.
(6) The petition for judicial review must include the party to whom the permit was issued or the applicant unless otherwise agreed to by the permitholder or applicant. All judicial challenges of permits for projects with a project cost, as determined by the court, of more than $1 million must have precedence over any civil cause of a different nature pending in that court. If the court determines that the challenge was without merit or was for an improper purpose, such as to harass, to cause unnecessary delay, or to impose needless or increased cost in litigation, the court may award attorney fees and costs incurred in defending the action.