PRINCETON – Bureau County has filed a motion to dismiss complaints alleged in a lawsuit aiming to stop development of the Walnut Ridge wind farm in northern Bureau County.
On June 29, 39 plaintiffs, mostly Walnut area property-owners, filed a 117-count complaint in Bureau County Circuit Court naming as defendants the County of Bureau, the Bureau County Board, all individual Bureau County Board members in their official capacities and Walnut Ridge Wind LLC.
In a motion filed Tuesday in the Bureau County Circuit Clerk’s office, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann, on behalf of the County of Bureau and the Bureau County Board collectively and individually, moved that the court dismiss those portions of the plaintiffs’ complaint premised on the issuance of the original conditional use permits.
In 2008, the county board granted conditional use permits for 143 wind turbine generators and ancillary structures for the wind farm. Earlier this year, the board granted extensions to those permits, which will now expire in 2014.
All 117 counts in the complaint contain allegations regarding the issuance of the original permits based on lack of proper location, identity of the applicant, specific conditional use sought, lack of notice to the village of Walnut and untimely action on the issuance of the conditional use permits.
However, according to Herrmann’s motion, those complaints are no longer timely. State statute provides that any action seeking judicial review of a decision granting a conditional use must be filed within 90 days of the decision.
Walnut Ridge Wind LLC previously filed a motion to dismiss on Aug. 3, indicating the same 90-day window for filing actions and asking the court to dismiss with prejudice the plaintiffs’ claims.
The plaintiffs have been filing motions of their own. On Aug. 9, Friesland Farms LLC filed a motion for the substitution of Judge Cornelius J. Hollerich. The case was reassigned to Judge Marc Bernabei. Steven Gerdes then filed a motion for the substitution of Judge Bernabei, and the case was transferred to the 13th Judicial Circuit and reassigned to Judge Joseph P. Hettel.
Each party is entitled to one substitution of judge without cause.
As the case moves forward, the plaintiffs must file a response to the motions to dismiss by Oct. 7. The defendants will then have until Oct. 28 to file a reply. The case is set for a status hearing Nov. 10.
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