COLUMBUS – A state board has argued that a wind turbine development in rural Greenwich can proceed, rejecting, among other arguments, an opponent’s claim that it ›led in a timely manner for a rehearing after the board initially approved the project.
The Ohio Power Siting Board’s ruling means that Windlab USA can proceed with its development of Greenwich Windpark, LLC, spokesman Matt Schilling said. The project calls for 4,600 acres and comprises up to 25 turbines, each 490.5 feet tall with rotor diameters of up to 383 feet.
Omega Crop Co., owned by Greenwich area residents Gerald and Connie Oney, had ›led the rehearing request on Sept.
23. On Oct. 22, Ohio Power Siting Board members decided they needed additional time to consider the Oneys’ application for re-hearing.
In addition to the timeliness matter, Omega has argued that Windlab USA hasn’t obtained the necessary waivers as required by law from adjacent property owners to bypass the required property setback requirements. They include a location of at least 1,125 feet from an occupied structure, said Sam Randazzo, a Columbus attorney representing Omega.
The attorney also said that the board’s ruling indicates Windlab USA cannot begin construction until it obtains those waivers.
“It is clear that they have not obtained waivers from all adjacent property owners,” he said.
A total of 62 percent of the 25 wind turbines violate the minimum setback requirements under Ohio law, Randazzo said.
He added the Ohio Supreme Court might be the avenue his client uses to clear up the property setback issue.
Monica Jensen, vice president for Windlab USA, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. She has said during a previous interview that the Ohio Power Siting Board “does a very good job of protecting Ohioans and ensuring things are done correctly across all projects.”
No action has been taken on Omega’s request for a re-hearing until Thursday.
Schilling said Thursday that, essentially, board members didn’t find merit in Omega’s arguments.
“Omega contends that it made an appearance in this matter with its Aug. 21, 2014 late-filed motion to intervene. Omega equates its motion to an appearance under R.C 4903.10 and, therefore, claims it is entitled to seek rehearing under R.C. 4903.10,” according to the case’s docket. “Omega argues that it is entitled to seek rehearing as an affected person in this uncontested proceeding. In the alternative. Omega submits that just cause for its failure to enter an appearance exists and that Omega’s interests were not considered in this matter.
“Omega declares that, as an owner of property adjacent to the wind farm. Omega has a right to party status under (Ohio law).”
Kevin Ledet, spokesman for Greenwich Neighbors United, a group of residents opposing the wind turbine development, said a major disagreement between GNU and the board is the definition of “adjacent property owner” to a turbine. The Oneys are active with GNU.
Ledet also said he doesn’t believe the board has obtained the necessary waivers from the adjacent property owners in order to bypass the minimum setback requirements.
Ledet said he thought the ruling would be more favorable to turbine opponents.
“i was kind of amazed because it took it 10 months to come up with this decision,” the rural Greenwich resident said.
He said he and other opponents planned to look more closely at the siting board’s decision and how it’s worded. He added GNU has a time frame during which it can appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court – a move which Ledet said the group is considering.
Turbine opponents have brought up several concerns about the turbines, including noise, adverse health effects and wildlife disturbance.
Randazzo said his client and others have put a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” into making their concerns known to the board.
The fight, apparently, isn’t over.
“We’re pretty disappointed but there’s still hope,” Gerald Oney said. “We’re not going to give up by any means.”
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