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Wind farm files motion to dismiss lawsuit

PRINCETON – A motion to dismiss a lawsuit concerning the proposed Walnut Ridge wind farm, filed June 30 against the Bureau County Board and others, has been entered in Bureau County Court.

A group of Bureau County residents filed a complaint on June 30 against Bureau County, the Bureau County Board, each member of the Bureau County Board as individuals in their official capacities, and against Walnut Ridge Wind LLC. The complaint was filed to stop the building of the proposed 150-turbine Walnut Ridge wind farm in northwest Bureau County.

The recent motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed Aug. 3 in the Bureau County Courthouse by defendant Walnut Ridge LLC.

In the 20-page motion, the defendant states each of the 117 counts of the Walnut Ridge complaint challenges the Bureau County Board’s actions in 2008 and in 2011 concerning the proposed Walnut Ridge project. According to the motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs’ claims within each count are based upon conditional-use permits granted by the county board in 2008 and are all untimely and should be dismissed, with prejudice.

According to the motion, Illinois law states all actions for judicial review of a special use granted by a county board “shall be commenced not later than 90 days after the date of the decision.” The plaintiffs failed to state a valid claim as to either the conditional-use permits granted in 2008 or with the extensions granted in April 2011, the motion states.

In separate court action, plaintiff Friesland Farm LLC has filed a request for substitution of judge, so that Associate Circuit Judge C.J. Hollerich would not hear the case. In a second action, plaintiff Steve Gerdes, who is president of Friesland Farm, has filed a request for substitution of judge, so that Circuit Judge Marc Bernabei would not hear the case.

According to law, each party in the lawsuit is entitled to one substitution of judge without stating a cause. The requests have been transferred to the 13th Judicial Circuit Chief Justice for reassignment of a judge.