May 11, 2012

Judge refuses to hear Sinton wind turbine lawsuit

by Mike Manzoni, KRIS-TV, 10 May 2012

SINTON – A judge dismissed a lawsuit between Sinton I.S.D. and the City of Sinton over a controversial wind turbine project Thursday, likely ending the months-long dispute that bitterly divided school officials and the city council.

Last year, the school district proposed installing two wind turbines at Sinton High School using funds from a federal grant that would have covered about 80 percent of the project. The proposal was met with mixed reaction from residents – some welcomed it while others expressed concerns the turbines would lower property values.

The judge decided that a San Patricio district court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case since the school district did not file an appeal within ten days of a local board’s decision to turn down the project.

The school district sued the city after the city’s Board of Adjustments halted the project during what attorneys for the school district said was an illegal meeting since the voting happened in closed session.

The attorney for the city, James McKibben, said the court agreed with the city because the district did not follow the appeals procedure outlined in the law.

But Roger Hepworth, an attorney for the school district, said the law that requires an appeal be filed within ten days only applies to 10 kilowatt turbines. The proposed ones, he said, were 100 kilowatt turbines.

“It’s the children of Sinton I.S.D. who have lost today,” said Hepworth.

Steve VanMatre, the Sinton I.S.D. superintendent, said the project will likely never happen since an appeal would take more time than the district has.

“There’s a high percentage chance that this is the end of the project,” said VanMatre. “The appeal process, I believe, would pass the deadline, and we only have until June.”

The deadline to hire a contractor is June 30.

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