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Wind farm developer makes its case against Perquimans County

While Apex Clean Energy disclosed this week that it’s moving forward with plans to erect a utility-scale wind farm in Chowan County, the Virginia company is not giving up on plans to construct a much larger project.

Initially, the farm was to span Chowan and Perquimans counties in eastern North Carolina. But, while Chowan issued the permit, Perquimans County voted to reject Apex’s application.

Apex, however, filed an appeal against that rejection in Perquimans County Superior Court.

“During the application hearings in Perquimans County, Timbermill demonstrated that it met all of the requirements for the permit,” Apex spokesman Kevin Chandler wrote in an email, referring to the name of the project. And the record shows that, as a majority, the board agreed.

The board took separate votes on each of the general conditions listed in Perquiman’s own ordinance for large wind energy facilities in November. Two conditions passed unanimously. The other two passed with a split vote after resident backlash – one being that the project not “substantially injure” property values, the other being that the farm be in “harmony” with the surrounding area.

The property value condition passed 3-2 and the “harmony” condition passed by a vote of 4-1.

But the board still declined to issue a permit in Perquimans County by a 3-2 vote.

So Apex appealed.

“Under North Carolina law, the applicant for [the conditional use permit] is entitled to the CUP if the applicant satisfies the requirements set forth in the zoning ordinance,” the appeal filed this week reads, referring to a conditional use permit.

Elliot Engstrom, legal method and communication fellow at Elon Law, says the case will come down to whether a quasi-judicial county board can aggregate their no votes.

Engstrom, who has represented residents trying to thwart wind farm development in their neighborhoods (such as a case earlier this year that, if it had gone in the plaintiff’s favor, could have de-railed Amazon’s project), has no connection to this case.