PRINCETON – A new judge has been appointed to hear the Walnut Ridge complaint filed in Bureau County Court by 37 Walnut-area residents and landowners.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Chief Justice H. Chris Ryan has assigned Judge Joseph Hettel to hear the case, in which the plaintiffs are seeking to stop Walnut Ridge Wind from building a 150-turbine wind farm in northwest Bureau County.
Named as defendants are the county, the County Board, each member of the board and Walnut Ridge Wind LLC.
One of the plaintiffs, Friesland Farm LCC, filed a request for substitution of Associate Circuit Judge C.J. Hollerich. Plaintiff Steve Gerdes, president of Friesland Farm, also filed a request for substitution of Circuit Judge Marc Bernabei.
The requests were sent to Ryan, who assigned Hettel.
Hettel has ordered the plaintiffs to file a response on or before Oct. 7 to a motion to dismiss the case, which Walnut Ridge filed on Aug. 3.
The plaintiffs will have until Oct. 28 to file a reply. A hearing on the motion to dismiss will be held Nov. 10 at the LaSalle County Courthouse in Ottawa.
The 450-page, 117-count complaint, filed June 30, claims the County Board did not have the authority or jurisdiction to grant the original conditional-use permits to Walnut Ridge Wind in August 2008, nor the authority to approve the permit-extension requests in April.
In its 20-page motion to dismiss, Walnut Ridge it states that the plaintiffs’ claims are untimely and should be dismissed.