McLean County will not be released from a lawsuit filed by homeowners who want to halt construction of a wind energy farm near Carlock, a McLean County judge ruled Wednesday.
The group known as Information Is Power wants to stop the 100-turbine White Oak Energy Center, which would straddle the McLean-Woodford county line.
The McLean County Board granted the developer, Chicago-based Invenergy Wind, a special-use permit last year after a prolonged hearing process before the county Zoning Board of Appeals.
Melissa McGrath, attorney for Information Is Power, argued in court Wednesday that the zoning board violated homeowners’ constitutional rights by limiting the testimony in opposition to the project. She accused the county of imposing different procedural rules on homeowners who spokes against the project.
“I have never seen violations like I saw in those proceedings,” McGrath told McLean County Circuit Judge Scott Drazewski.
Brian Hug, the assistant state’s attorney representing the County Board and zoning board, contended that McGrath’s clients do not live within the 12,212-acre area covered by the special-use permit. Landowners who are members of the nonprofit group were described by Hug as “interlopers seeking to get in because they want to complain.”
Hug said the county “bent over backwards to provide an outstanding hearing” on the wind farm proposal. The hearings spanned about 60 hours over more than a week, he said.
Attorneys for both sides expressed frustration with the fact that the litigation is now more than a year old and the case is still in a preliminary stage.
“We’re still struggling on who the plaintiffs are and why they’re here in court,” said Hug.
McGrath asked the judge to move the case forward and order the county to file a response to the complaint within 10 days.
The judge ruled that Information Is Power provided sufficient facts to survive the county’s arguments.
Attorneys for the wind farm attended the hearing but did not offer arguments.
Drazewski gave the county 28 days to answer the complaint.
By Edith Brady-Lunny
16 April 2008
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