PONTIAC – A wind energy company is hoping to win the right to build a wind farm in Livingston County by appealing the county board’s rejection of a zoning and special use application.
Officials from Chicago-based Invenergy filed a formal appeal in Livingston County Circuit Court Friday, nearly three months after the county board voted to accept a Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation and deny its application. A court date has not yet been set.
Invenergy spokesman David Goldenberg said the company never considers an appeal except in the most “egregious and obvious situations where they have no other choice.”
“It is clear there was a complete disregard of factual evidence and expert testimony in the consideration of the Pleasant Ridge project,” he said.
He also issued a statement on behalf of the company.
“We presented direct and substantial evidence from expert witnesses confirming Pleasant Ridge met every requirement established by the county’s wind ordinance and special use criteria, similar to the three wind projects the county has previously approved,” read the statement. “Rather than relying on factual evidence and expert testimony, the Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals and Livingston County Board cited false and falsified information presented by opponents with ties to the national anti-wind energy movement as justification for opposing the project.”
After 34 public meetings, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to deny the application. The county board then voted 13-9 against the project to build 138 turbines near Forrest, Fairbury, Strawn and Chatsworth.
Members of the county board expressed concern that too many county residents would be negatively affected by proposed wind farm, which would be spread over 30,000 acres of farmland in the southeastern portion of the county. Residents expressed concern over noise and additional traffic caused by construction.
Board members are also considering changes to the current wind farm ordinances. When contacted Monday, Livingston County Board Chairman Marty Fannin said he would have no comment on the appeal.
In filing the appeal on behalf of the company, Goldenberg said the county board did not follow its adopted zoning ordinances and special use guidelines regulating the development of wind projects. Also, company officials believe the project should be considered based on the merits of the zoning application and the factual evidence and expert testimony presented during the hearing process.
They contend Pleasant Ridge met all applicable standards, which the county board did not consider in making the decision.
Several county residents opposed the wind farm and say they will continue to do so.
“When the word broke Friday about this appeal, my e-mail blew up, my Facebook blew up, and my phone blew up with people wanting to know what this meant,” said Chatsworth resident Megan Dassow. “Our county board did an amazing job in listening to all of the information and making a decision. I don’t know what else the company could add to change the outcome.”
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