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Wind farm lawsuit won't include zoning board members

Members of the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals will not be included in a lawsuit filed by opponents to a wind farm planned for construction near Carlock.

McLean County Judge Charles Reynard denied a motion Thursday to reconsider an earlier ruling that dismissed the zoning board members from a lawsuit filed by Information Is Power. The group has accused the zoning board and the McLean County Board of denying their rights during the process of awarding a special use permit last fall.

The group opposes construction of the $250 million wind farm by Chicago-based Invenergy Wind along the McLean-Woodford county border.

Reynard ruled in December that the county board may be included in the lawsuit, which was filed about their decision to accept the zoning board’s recommendation to award the special use permit.

In arguments Thursday on behalf of Information Is Power, attorney Melissa McGrath said the zoning board is not entitled to legislative immunity under state law because its actions are not legislative in nature.

Opponents to the wind farm were denied their constitutional due process rights during public hearings last fall, said McGrath, when opponents’ comments were limited.

Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Hug told the court that the disagreement over the White Oak Energy Center falls short of a constitutional debate.

“We have a garden-variety zoning dispute,” said Hug.

The fact that no property rights are at issue also removes the case from the federal level, said Hug. “What they’re complaining about is how someone else is using their property,” said the county attorney.

McGrath countered that her clients have a right to a review of the decision.

“They don’t want the public to have any right to a review of what happened in the zoning board of appeals hearing,” said McGrath.

The next hearing in the case will be Jan. 15 when other pending motions will be heard.

By Edith Brady-Lunny

Bloomington Pantagraph

4 January 2008