Tri-county wind farm heading back to county board
By Jim Hagerty
Almost two years after an energy developer proposed erecting more than 400 wind turbines in parts of Stephenson, Ogle and Winnebago counties, the plans will head back to the Winnebago County Board.
Gamesa Energy USA, formerly Navitas Energy, was given the green light by the county zoning board to move forward in 2009. A lawsuit, filed by an Arizona resident who owns 400 acres in German Valley, however, has delayed the project.
Patricia Muscarello filed the complaint in a Rockford federal court Jan. 21, 2010, seeking an injunction against the farm, most notably the approximately 100 turbines projected to be erected adjacent to her property. Earlier this month, the court denied the injunction. That means plans will shift back to the planning stages where it left off in late 2009.
Muscarello was seeking damages of $500,000.
According to the complaint, damages were sought to compensate for “depreciation of use and value” of Muscarello’s property. Muscarello was also challenging the ordinance’s text amendment, which approved the land for permitted use while turbines could be sited without public hearings. Muscarello, who owns Watts Farm, Hilton Farm and Ross Farm, also alleged wind farms are a public nuisance.
“The case was dismissed,” Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) said. “Nobody has filed for permits; and we still have work to do.”
Christiansen is unsure when the board will formally mull the project. Ordinances will be revisited before board members will vote on the plan.
“We still have to clean up the ordinances,” Christiansen said. “That means we will probably have to go back through that process.”
Muscarello filed a similar lawsuit to stop another Gamesa wind farm in 2006. The complaint alleged the project would compromise her property near the Ogle County Baileyville Wind Farm. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard dismissed the complaint. The case is still tied up in court on the appellate level.
From the May 25-31, 2011 issue
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