A Lake County court has denied residents’ request for Aldridge Electric Co. to remove its wind turbine within Libertyville.
Judge Mitchell Hoffman said Thursday that while the court found the village of Libertyville violated its wind farm statute, the residents did not provide significant evidence nor did they act on their objections in a timely manner.
“The question whether Aldridge detrimentally relied on the village and on the silence of plaintiffs throughout the hearing, approval and construction process is an issue which must be resolved at trial,” Judge Hoffman said.
The legal battle began in 2009 between the village and the Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville when Aldridge Electric Inc. installed the wind turbine on its property at 844 E. Rockland Road. The lawsuit alleged the village did not notify residents between a plan commission meeting in 2008 and board meeting in 2009 when the board unanimously agreed to allow Aldridge to build the wind turbine.
“He clearly spent a lot of time to make a well-thought-out decision, but clearly we are disappointed,” said David Gates, who belongs to Citizens for the Protection of Libertyville.
Residents willing to negotiate
Gates said they still are willing to negotiate with the village and Aldridge Electric. He said an agreement was made July 27 by Aldridge to move the wind turbine 800 feet away, which the village agreed to, but the company backed out.
“The village has spent way too much as we have way too much time and money on this issue that we could have mediated a long time ago,” Gates said.
While Aldridge has said he is willing to meet with residents to resolve the dispute, Gates said Aldridge has told the residents only what he would be willing to do. That is not mediation.
“He would have been happy to sit and tell us what he is happy to do,” he said.
Resident Gary Newell said both sides have spent close to $200,000 in legal fees to address the issue, when the village could have spent $50,000 to have it moved and settled the matter years ago. He said the wind turbine is a nuisance and is causing an unnecessary rift between the village and the residents.
“I’m really disappointed the town has protected a nuisance and not protected its citizens here,” Newell said.
Nuisance objection trial begins August
The residents will begin trial in three weeks to address the nuisance objection that also was also filed when the turbine was first installed although residents agree they want to negotiate about moving the turbine.
“We were hoping this would come to a conclusion here. We wanted a conclusion today. I don’t understand why we are moving this thing forward when everybody agrees there is no real gain for anyone here,” Newell said. “It is not producing any electricity. It is harming the residents. It is giving the town a bad name. There is no winning here.”
Gates said while the judge could not take it into consideration in this setting, they will show evidence at trial they were tricked. He said the judge pointed out they did not rush to raise our concerns in a timely manner.
“We didn’t know we needed to. We didn’t understand what they had done to us. We didn’t understand until it was up and making noise that we had been tricked,” Gates said.
Donna Gates said the good news is villages will take a conservative approach as to allowing wind turbines to prevent a similar occurrence.
“The good news is hopefully we will not see this happen again,” Dave Gates said.
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