September 20, 2013

Tipton BZA seeks funds for attorney; Lawsuits filed on Prairie Breeze rulings

By Ken de la Bastide | Kokomo Tribune | September 20, 2013 |

TIPTON – The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals is requesting funding to hire an attorney to represent it in two court cases regarding the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

Following a Sept. 10 executive session, BZA members voted to have Plan Director Steve Edson request funding to hire an attorney in the court actions. BZA President Jerry Acres is named in the legal actions as president of the board.

Edson requested the Tipton County Council advertise its intent to appropriate $10,000 to hire an attorney prior to the council’s October meeting.

BZA members indicated they didn’t want John Brooke, the county attorney, to represent them.

Edson said the potential cost of the litigation is unknown, stating the lawsuits could be dismissed. He added that was “wishful thinking.”

When asked by council members who would hire the attorney, Edson said the BZA has no budget, but the Plan Commission budget includes funding for possible litigation.

“A legal opinion is that the Plan Commission hires the attorney,” Edson said. “I don’t know if the BZA needs to have input.”

Edson said two members of the Tipton County Plan Commission serve on the county’s BZA.

Brooke did enter an appearance in the juwi Wind filing Sept. 12.

He also filed a motion to allow the BZA until Nov. 23 to file a response with the court. Brooke is requesting the extension because he had just been retained and needs additional time to investigate the claim and prepare a response.

The developer of the wind farm in northwestern Tipton County, juwi Wind, has filed a petition for judicial review of the BZA’s decision not to consider modifications to restrictions placed on the project in March and an alleged Open Door violation in conducting a meeting July 31.

The second petition for judicial review was filed against the BZA, juwi Wind and the opponents of the wind farm, Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, by leaseholders within the project, claiming their due process rights were denied.

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