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Judge upholds suit over proposed wind farm

The court fight will continue over a proposed $250 million wind farm in McLean and Woodford counties.

Circuit Judge Charles Reynard ruled Tuesday in McLean County court that a lawsuit can proceed against Invenergy Wind LLC and county officials who approved special use zoning permits for the wind farm.

Reynard denied several motions by the developer and the county to dismiss the suit, which was filed in June by Information is Power. Defendants include members of the McLean County Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Phil Dick and Mike Behay of the building and zoning department also are named in the suit.

Information is Power is a not-for-profit group composed of residents who oppose the wind farm near their homes. The suit claims the developers and county officials violated due process rights of those opposing the project.

The McLean County Board granted Chicago-based company Invenergy a special-use permit to build the 100-turbine White Oak Energy Center along the Woodford County border.

Melissa McGrath, attorney for Information is Power, released a statement claiming the McLean County Department of Building and Zoning was prepared to recommend the special use permit before public hearings began.

According to the suit, the zoning board made procedural changes that favored Invenergy and limited opponents’ rights to express their views.

“I feel very strongly that the hearings were conducted in a fair manner,” Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Sally Rudolf said previously. “Everyone got their say, and we felt that the process was very well executed.”

Phil Dick, director of building and zoning, and William Wetzel, attorney for Invenergy, declined to comment on the suit. Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Hug, representing the county, did not return calls Wednesday.

McLean County and Invenergy have until Aug. 31 to respond to the lawsuit. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24.

By Fitzgerald M. Doubet

Peoria Journal Star

26 July 2007