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Newark wind lawsuit back in court

A wind power-related lawsuit against the town of Newark continues in Caledonia Civil Court next month.

Hawk Rock Holdings, LLC, filed its first lawsuit against the town five years ago, not long after Newark citizens overwhelmingly adopted a new town plan in the midst of a controversial bid by an out-of-state developer which had proposed a wind project to span from Newark to Brighton to Ferdinand.

The new town plan restricted the height of structures permitted on ridgelines.

In 2015, Hawk Rock filed a related second lawsuit against the Newark select board and planning commission arguing its re-adoption of the town plan that year was insufficient under state statute and should be invalidated by the court.

“Defendant’s November 23, 2015 “re-adoption” of the 2012 town plan accompanied by the 2015 report was invalid because the town of Newark could not “re-adopt” a plan that had not previously been validly adopted,” reads the motion for summery judgment filed by Hawkrock’s attorneys – Stackpole & French Law Offices of Stowe. The re-adoption was also invalid, claims Hawrock, due to “defective notice.”

Hawk Rock Holdings LLC, owns approximately 2,600 acres of land in Newark and had leased part of its property to Seneca Mountain Wind, a firm which had sights on developing an industrial wind project. The company later abandoned the project.

The first lawsuit, brought in 2012, resulted in a judge ruling the 2012 Newark Town Plan invalid because of deficiencies in a report that accompanies the town plan.

The town’s planning commission addressed the judge’s concerns with the report accompanying the town plan and readopted the plan. The select board likewise re-adopted the town plan.

The lawsuit is asking the court to invalidate the town plan once again.

The Newark Town Plan was amended in mid-September 2012 at this public hearing, the largest turnout in the town’s history, where a wide majority passed changes that ban industrial wind. A legal challenge led to the plan being invalidated, and the planning commission issued an updated report on the plan to address deficiencies the judge said existed.