The Ohio Power Siting Board may have given the go-ahead to a controversial wind energy farm in southern Huron County, but the battle is hardly over.
The group that opposes the wind farm is planning to appeal the board’s latest decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In addition, the group may file yet another request with the board to seek a rehearing.
Those decisions appear to mean that construction of the project cannot begin anytime soon.
The Greenwich Windpark LLC project, planned for just north of Huron County’s southern border, calls for putting up 25 wind turbines that would be about 490 feet high.
The Ohio Power Siting Board, which must approve all wind farm projects that aren’t very small, held public hearings and asked for public comments in 2014, then approved the project on Aug. 25, 2014.
Opponents of the project asked for a rehearing in September 2014. Late last month, the Power Siting Board responded by ruling again that the project can do forward.
Kevin Ledet, the chairman of Greenwich Neighbors United, the group fighting the wind farm, said Friday that his group has instructed Columbus attorney Samuel C. Randazzo to proceed with an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. The appeal must be filed within 60 days of the Ohio Power Siting Board’s latest decision.
Ledet said he and other landowners near the proposed wind farm did not realize the scope of the project at first.
“This is zoned agriculture,” he said. “If you really want to be honest, this is an industrial power plant being superimposed on an agricultural community.”
Randazzo said that if the group seeks another rehearing, it must do so within 30 days of the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision. So a decision that on that will be made before September ends, he said.
Randazzo contends the Ohio Power Siting Board made a big mistake by ignoring a state law which says the turbines must obtain the consent of adjacent landowners if the turbines don’t meet requirements for minimum setbacks, i.e. the distances between the turbines and property lines.
Ledet contends that 62 percent of the wind turbines violate those minimum setback requirements.
“I’ve never been contacted about signing a waiver on these setbacks,” he said.
Randazzo contends the Power Siting Board also ignored the legal requirement to set up rules for getting waivers for the setback requirements.
By law, the agency is supposed to publish its proposed rules, receive public comments and go through a legislative review process. It hasn’t done that, Randazzo said.
When it affirmed its decision last month, the Power Siting Board dismissed claims by opponents that it had rushed through its original decision by providing only 74 days of public comment. The owner of the farm that appealed last year’s decision was present at the public meeting, it noted.
Randazzo said Friday that the same board that thought about 70 days was adequate for the community to comment on the wind farm took more than a year to reaffirm its original decision.
“The folks up there, I feel for them. They were busy trying to get their crops in the ground and that sort of thing,” he said.
“It’s just completely ridiculous,” he said. “I feel bad for lay people who have to experience this kind of treatment from a government that’s supposed to be looking out for their best interests.”
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