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Walnut and Walnut Ridge avoid lawsuit  

Credit:  By Barb Kromphard, Bureau County Republican, www.bcrnews.com 27 July 2011 ~~

WALNUT – A last minute agreement between the village of Walnut and the developers of the Walnut Ridge wind farm has avoided the need for a lawsuit.

On July 12, the village and the wind farm developer came to an agreement regarding wind turbines proposed close to the village’s limits. According to the agreement, Walnut Ridge agreed not to apply for building permits or to act upon in any respect the conditional use permits as issued or extended by Bureau County for 11 wind turbines to be located within 1.5 miles from the corporate boundaries of the village, without first obtaining the prior written consent of the village.

In return, Walnut agreed not to file a lawsuit regarding Bureau County’s extension of the permits.

At the July 5 regular Walnut Village Board meeting, the board believed it had approved an ordinance that would regulate turbines outside the village’s corporate limits. The ordinance would have banned wind turbines within one mile beyond the corporate boundaries. Wind turbines within 1 to 1.5 miles from the village would have been restricted to the industrial use areas on the northwest and southeast areas of the village and require special approval by the board.

Also at the meeting, Village Attorney Robert LeSage said he had drafted an appeal regarding the proposed wind farm, and that it would be filed by July 14. The appeal dealt with the Bureau County Board’s approval of the conditional use permits for turbines that would be located within 1.5 miles of the village’s boundaries, with some as close as 750 feet.

However, at a special board meeting held July 11, LeSage said the zoning ordinance that was passed at the July 5 board meeting was void. LeSage said the village needed to first refer the regulations to the planning commission for a public hearing and consideration prior to consideration by the board. That meeting was set for 7 p.m. Aug. 3.

At that same meeting, following a presentation by Midwest Wind Energy, Walnut Ridge’s developer, the board also approved a motion for Village President Robert Brasen and LeSage to negotiate a contract agreement between the two parties, and to authorize Brasen to sign such agreement with a deadline being 2 p.m. July 12.

And that deadline was met.

On Monday, Bill French, project coordinator of the Walnut Ridge project confirmed the agreement was made July 12, and said his company felt it was in the best interests of Walnut and Walnut Ridge to come to an agreement.

French said that, according to the agreement, Walnut Ridge will take no action on the 11 turbines until the village can adopt a new wind ordinance. After the new ordinance is approved, Walnut Ridge will come back and get a permit for the turbines that would fit the ordinance.

French declined to specify what Walnut Ridge would like to see in Walnut’s new ordinance, other than to say the company would like to erect as many turbines as the Walnut ordinance will allow.

“In all cases we want to cooperate with the village,” French said. “We feel this is the most prudent arrangement to make.”

Brasen agreed and said he had been in negotiations with French “from the start” because both parties wanted to avoid litigation.

“I said, ‘Bill, you go 1.5 miles plus a foot away from the village limits, and it’s not our concern,’” Brasen said. “Can you relocate them?”

Brasen said the agreement was a plus/plus for both parties.

“Our ultimate goal was to get back our 1.5 miles,” he said.

Source:  By Barb Kromphard, Bureau County Republican, www.bcrnews.com 27 July 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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