A Lake County judge has delayed ruling on whether Libertyville officials acted lawfully in allowing Aldridge Electric Inc. to build a wind turbine until a hearing on July 21.
Judge Mitchell Hoffman said following Thursday’s hearing he wants to review information provided by attorneys representing the village and the Citizens for Protection of Libertyville, the residents group.
“I think he is just being thoughtful. He wants to review the case before he makes a decision,” said Richard Porter of Hinshaw, who represents the residents.
Porter said what the judge must decide is whether or not the village lost jurisdiction when it did not render a decision 30 days of the public hearing. The next question is whether or not Aldridge quickly put up a turbine at its property at 844 E. Rockland Rd. to stop the residents from asserting that lost jurisdiction was perhaps made. Porter says the group’s position is lost jurisdiction can be made any time.
“If the court rules that the ordinances are void, (the judge) is also free to rule that the turbine needs to be removed,” Porter said. “That is what our summary judgment seeks.”
Attorney David Goles, who represented Libertyville along with partner Dave Pardys and Bogdan Martinovich, said the village made sure residents received adequate notification by mail and were notified of the process.
“This was not a closed door permit process,” Goles said.
Start of legal battle
The legal battle between the village and residents began when Aldridge Electric Inc. installed the wind turbine on its property in 2009. The lawsuit alleges the village did not notify residents between a plan commission meeting in late 2008 and board meeting in early 2009 when the village board unanimously approved to allow Aldridge to build the wind turbine.
During this time, Aldridge submitted to village trustees to build the wind turbine closer to homes than where it was originally approved to be built.
While he has been involved with other litigation involving wind farms, Porter said this is the only case he has handled that involves a single wind turbine.
“It is highly unusual to have a turbine this close to people’s homes,” he said. “Hopefully it does not happen often.”
Residents who live near the turbine and attended the hearing supported Judge Hoffman’s decision to review the case further.
“I’m glad he is taking his time to make a good decision,” said David Gates who belongs to Citizens for Protection of Libertyville.
Porter said even if the summary judgment is denied, the case may continue through nuisance action also filed by the group. Since the complaint was first filed, Aldridge has been restricted to operating the wind turbine from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Residents who attended the hearing say the noise produced by the wind turbine is affecting their lives. Resident Gary Newell added the noise is not constant but fluctuates due to factors such as wind speed and direction.
“So you can never get used to it,” said resident Laurie Renz. “People keep saying ‘oh you will get used to it.’ It is like trying to get used to a tornado siren which is all different frequencies and measures of loudness so you can not ignore it. That is what this turbine does. It has such a variety of sounds and strengths and is constantly changing that you can’t ignore it and you can’t get used to it.”
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