Goodhue County will not join citizen groups Coalition for Sensible Citing and Goodhue Wind Truth as they file for appeal in the case against AWA Goodhue Wind.
The Goodhue County Board voted 2-2 Tuesday to file for appeal, but since there was no majority, the motion failed and the county will not be appealing. Commissioner Richard Samuelson was absent.
Commissioner Ron Allen and Board Chair Ted Seifert voted in favor of the appeal, hoping the appellate court will disregard the Public Utilities Commission’s decision to permit a 78-megawatt wind farm with standards different than those in the county’s zoning ordinance.
“When we have an ordinance, we expect the state to recognize that,” Seifert said.
But Commissioners Jim Bryant and Dan Rechtzigel decided the county has taken enough steps in trying to enforce its ordinance – the most recent asking the PUC to reconsider its initial decision to issue a site permit to AWA Goodhue, a request that was denied at a hearing Nov. 10.
“I don’t know where you gentlemen are finally going to say it’s over,” Rechtzigel said to the other commissioners. “This decision to stop this thing is not going to get easier for you.”
“Wind turbines are coming to Goodhue County,” Bryant said. “I don’t think anything we do today is going to stop that.”
The County Board had initially given Goodhue County Attorney Steve Betcher approval to file for appeal in the case, but only because it thought the filing deadline was going to come prior to hearing the PUC’s decision on reconsideration.
“The timing … required us to either go ahead simultaneously with the proceedings, or miss the deadline,” Betcher explained.
But it was later understood that the deadline was inaccurate, so the appellate court dismissed the initial appeals and told parties who filed that they could re-file without any additional fees after hearing the PUC decision.
“I appreciate the fact that you allowed us to appeal to keep that option open,” Betcher told commissioners.
The county attorney brought the question of appealing before the board on Tuesday because he wasn’t sure commissioners would still favor filing an appeal now that there wasn’t an extremely pressing deadline and an unknown PUC decision before them.
“I clearly intended that (appeal vote) to be a strategic decision,” Betcher said of the initial approval he received from the board.
Although the county’s fight has ended, groups of concerned citizens opposed to the wind farm – the Coalition for Sensible Siting and Goodhue Wind Truth – have said they intend to appeal the PUC’s ruling.
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