August 16, 2017
South Dakota

Clark County wind tower setback issue still up in the air

By J.T. Fey, Public Opinion News Staff | Watertown Public Opinion | Aug 15, 2017 |

MINNEAPOLIS – A spokesman for Geronimo Energy in Minneapolis clarified the outcome of Monday’s wind tower setback hearing in the Third Circuit Court in Watertown.

Geronimo had requested a partial summary judgment from the court regarding the Clark County Commissioners’ decision to change wind tower setback requirements from 1,000 feet to 3,960 feet.

Judge Carmen Means did not definitively rule against Geronimo Energy, as was reported in Tuesday’s Public Opinion. Means denied the motion for summary judgement in an oral ruling issued with little explanation indicating she did not have enough information to make a ruling and that the decision will have to be made after hearing all the evidence.

Clark County regulations require a 1,000-foot setback from residences, but during a conditional use permit hearing requested by Geronimo, the commissioners, under pressure from citizens, placed a condition on the project changing the setback to three-quarters of a mile. That decision brought the legal challenge from Geronimo.

“We filed the motion for partial summary judgement hoping to abbreviate litigation and to drill down to the heart of the matter,” said Melissa Schmit, senior permitting specialist for Geronimo Energy. “We want to keep the project moving and protect the property rights of our participating landowners.”

Schmit said Geronimo has other permit conditions that will require judgments but that the setback requirement was “the heart of the matter.”

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