A coalition of local citizens will get their day in court come December, although it may not end in a closed case.
Petitioners from Middletown, Straughn, New Castle, Shirley, Spiceland, Mooreland, Sulphur Springs and Hagerstown asked a Henry County court in May to review the county’s 2009 Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) ordinance.
Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC, one of the named “respondents” of the judicial review request, has argued that this isn’t the right way to address any grievances that the residents have with the WECS ordinance.
After months of back and forth, Special Judge Linda Ralu Wolf of Delaware County agreed to hear arguments in her courtroom Dec. 5 from both sides of the argument.
Big Blue River Wind Farm has plans to develop a wind farm north of U.S. Hwy 36. The Henry County Planning Commission granted approval earlier this year for the company to construct two measurement towers in that area to gather data before moving forward.
The petition for judicial review filed in May challenges the WECS ordinance itself and the authority of the planning commission to grant “commission-approved uses” of the land at all.
Big Blue River Wind Farm asked Judge Wolf in August to dismiss the judicial review request entirely. The company argued that the 2009 WECS ordinance adoption was a legislative act, not a zoning decision.
“[T]he proper procedure for challenging the legality of an ordinance is to file a declaratory judgment action against the legislative body that adopted the ordinance,” Blue River’s attorney’s said.
The group seeking judicial review formally opposed the motion to dismiss in September and asked Wolf to ignore (or “strike”) some documents submitted by Big Blue River Wind.
The hearing in December will give Judge Wolf the opportunity to hear from both sides regarding the motion to dismiss the case and the arguments against that motion.
If Wolf decides in Big Blue River Wind Farms favor, the request for judicial review will be over.
If the judge agrees with the petitioners in December, the legal battle over the legitimacy of Henry County’s WECS ordinance will continue.
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