LUDINGTON – A Mason County Circuit Court Judge upheld the actions of the Mason County Zoning Board of Appeals to allow construction of a Consumers Energy wind farm in Riverton and Summit townships to continue.
The New Mexico-based Citizens Alliance for Responsible Renewable Energy on behalf of citizens opposed to the project appealed the county planning commission and zoning appeals board decisions in favor of the Lake Winds Energy Park.
In a 16-page written decision late Friday, Judge Richard I. Cooper ruled in favor of the county, a move that will allow Consumers Energy to continue to construct the $235 million, 56-turbine wind farm.
“In all issues the challenge to the determination of the Zoning Board of Appeals is denied,” Cooper concluded. “The determination by the Zoning Board of Appeal is affirmed.”
Mason County Planning Director Mary Reilly called the Lake Wind decisions by planners and appeal board members “lengthy and difficult.”
“The judge’s decision signals to the board what the next steps will be,” Reilly said. “The focus now will be on construction and implementation.”
Consumer Energy last fall began constructing the wind turbine tower bases and the utility roads in the agricultural area south and east of Ludington. Electrical utility construction continued this winter during the court case, according to company spokesman Dennis Marvin.
With the frost-restrictions taken off of Mason County rural roads, tower construction will restart April 2, Marvin said. Tower and turbine assembly will begin in May and the entire project is expected to be completed and producing energy by the end of the year.
“We are obviously pleased with the judge’s decision as it upholds our position,” Marvin said of Consumers Energy, which was a intervening party in conjunction with the Mason County Zoning Board of Appeals. “As we have said, the planning commission and zoning board of appeals were correct in their approvals of the project.”
Bellaire attorney Peter R. Wendling represented CARRE in the case against the county. He said his client is disappointed in the judge’s decision and will have 21 days in which to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
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