September 12, 2013

Tipton BZA will hire attorney; Board faces two lawsuits over wind farm

By Ken de la Bastide | Kokomo Tribune | September 12, 2013 |

TIPTON – The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals will hire outside legal counsel to defend it in two lawsuits concerning the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

The board will seek an additional appropriation from the county council to pay for an attorney and directed Tipton County Attorney John Brooke, whose services will be retained until another lawyer is chosen, to file an appearance in both lawsuits by the Sept. 23 deadline.

The BZA is requesting an initial $10,000 to pay for legal counsel.

Prairie Breeze Wind Farm developer juwi Wind filed a civil suit seeking judicial review of the conditions set by the BZA when it issued a permit for the development proposed for northwestern Tipton County. The BZA imposed a 1,500 foot setback from property lines for the placement of wind turbines and required juwi Wind to create a property value guarantee plan.

The suit alleges the BZA exceeded its authority when placing conditions on the wind farm development while granting a conditional use permit that were outside the parameters of the county’s wind ordinance.

The company also contends the BZA’s July 31 meeting was in violation of the Indiana Open Door law because the board voted not to consider a modification of the setback requirement, which was not posted on the agenda. The modification request was initially denied by Tipton County Plan Commission administrator Steve Edson.

Leaseholders with juwi Wind filed a different lawsuit against the BZA, the company and the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development making the same allegations.

Tipton Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lett has recused himself from hearing the two lawsuits. A special judge is yet to be named.

The proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm would be a $300 million investment in Tipton County and consist of as many as 92 wind turbines.

Six BZA members met in executive session for 75 minutes before voting to hire outside counsel. Member Beth Roach was not in attendance.

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