The Baileyville Wind Farm took a small step forward last week when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the farm’s opponents more than a year ago.
United States District Judge Philip Reinhard dismissed a 12-count lawsuit filed Jan. 23, 2006 by attorney Mark Muscarello on behalf of his wife, Patricia Muscarello, of Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Patricia Muscarello owns 237 acres of farmland at the corner of Pecatonica and Oak Grove Roads in Leaf River Township.
Her property adjoins the proposed wind farm but is not part of the project.
Reinhard granted Muscarello 30 days to refile the lawsuit, which sought to stop the wind farm from being built in Ogle County. Reinhard’s decision could also be appealed in the federal appellate court.
The case was dismissed in part over jurisdictional issues, as well as the number of plaintiffs. The 53-page lawsuit named as defendants the 50-plus people who testified during hearings on the wind farm, as well as the Ogle County Board, Ogle County Board chairman Betty Gocken, the Ogle County Zoning Board of Appeals , ZBA chairman Bruce McKinney, Ogle County Zoning Administrator Mike Reible, several landowners involved in the project and Baileyville Wind Farms LLC. It also named the owner of the wind farm, Navitas Energy, Inc., of Minneapolis, and the parent company Gamesa Corporation Technologica, SA.
Several of the defendants actually opposed the wind farm and joined the lawsuit as cross-plaintiffs.
The Ogle County Board approved a special use permit requested by Navitas Wind Energy by a vote of 21-2 on Dec. 20, 2005. Navitas asked for the permit to construct 40 windmills on 5,000 acres of farmland in Leaf River and Maryland Townships.
The county held nine hearings in November and December of 2005 to hear testimony from supporters and opponents of the wind farm.
Oregon attorney Kim Krahenbuhl represented Baileyville Wind Farms LLC and Navitas Energy Inc. at the hearings and in federal court.
Navitas is leasing the land where it plans to construct the windmills.
Plans call for each windmill to be approximately 400 feet tall on a 16-foot concrete base. Access roads will be constructed to each windmill.
One of the conditions of the special use permit was that Navitas will, under certain circumstances, pay homeowners living within a mile of the wind farm if they try to sell their homes and are unable to get the appraised price.
The plan calls for procedures to be followed to ensure that any loss of value is attributable to the presence of the wind farm.
By Vinde Wells
Shaw News Service
14 February 2007
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