A group of nine individuals have petitioned a local court to upload a Perquimans County decision to deny a permit for the Timbermill Wind project.
The cross petition was filed on Dec. 21. In it, attorney Chad Essick also questioned the handling of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) hearings and the vote to recuse Commissioner Matt Peeler.
A 3-2 majority of the board voted to prevent Peeler from voting on the CUP application based in part on a series of e-mails he wrote opposing wind power.
“Several of the board’s decisions, made before its decision on the ultimate issue of whether to grant or deny the application, violated constitutional provisions and were based on errors of law,” Essick said in his petition.
On the issue of Peeler, Essick maintains Apex had e-mails from Peeler before the first hearing started on Aug. 24 but didn’t seek to have Peeler recused until Sept. 24.
The decision to recuse Peeler “set a dangerous precedent in North Carolina, if that decision is allowed to stand, for allowing board politics to significantly alter the potential outcome of quasi-judicial proceedings through the guise of alleged ‘potential bias,’” Essick wrote.
Peeler did not seek re-election and is no longer on the county commission.
The petition is being filed by Leary Winslow and Allison Winslow, Paul and Kristi Copeland, Derek and Dabney Scaff, Dennis and Sheena Hunter and William Elliott III.
The Winslow’s, Copeland’s, the Hunter’s and Elliott own property that directly adjoins or abuts land leased for the Timbermill project. The Scaff’s own property in close proximity.
In the Winslow case, an Apex tower is less than 900 feet from their property line and the area is subject to up to 660 hours per year of shadow flicker, according to the petition.
Flicker is the term used to describe a strobe-light effect during certain times of the year as the turbine blades pass between the sun and a person or object on the ground.
The Copeland’s property is surrounded on all sides by the project and about 2,100 feet from the nearest turbine. They expect a 40-percent decrease in property value if the wind project is built.
Paul Copeland and his wife built their two-bedroom home on four acres of the 75 acres his family owns.
“My grandmother bought the land 50 years ago, they were farmers by trade.”
The home was completed in May 2015 and he said he and his wife didn’t hear about plans for the wind project until August of that year. With one brief exception, Copeland said he’s lived all of his 38 years in the Bear Swamp area.
He said worries about shadow flicker are real for both he and his wife.
“We just finished a brand new home and we may not be able to stay there because of shadow flicker and the noise. This is something we’ve wanted to do for 15 years and now as soon as we get finished we hear about the windmills.”
Copeland owns a used car dealership in Hertford.
“Now we got almost $300,000 invested in a house and we’ve got windmills. What happens if the value of the house goes down 40 percent?”
Copeland said he went to a family Christmas Eve party in Belvidere and the 104-turbine Amazon Wind Farms East project.
“At night you could see the red lights flashing. It was sickening. All this has broke our hearts. We’ve lost sleep over it. Finally we get a house we’ve dreamed about and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The petition said from the Scaff’s front porch they’d be able to see almost two dozen turbines, the closest about three quarters of a mile away. They expect a loss in property value.
Elliott’s property is surrounded by the project on three sides and the nearest turbine is more than a half-mile away. That area has been singled out as one of the top 10 percent of homes that will be subject to shadow flicker, about 660 hours a year. Also the petition says Elliott worries about his adult stepson, who lives there. The stepson suffered a serious brain injury in a motorcycle accident, can’t take care of himself and is uniquely sensitive to flickering light, according to the appeal.
The Hunter’s property is about a half mile from the nearest turbine. Their home is expected to get the most number of hours of shadow flicker, The petition says they’ll be able to see 40 turbines from their property and they expect property values will decrease 25 percent.
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