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Court action filed to block Black Hawk County wind farm

WATERLOO – An area farmer is asking the Black Hawk County District Court to stop development of a 35-turbine wind farm southeast of Hudson.

Harold Youngblut filed an action Wednesday claiming the county Board of Adjustment acted improperly by approving a special use permit for the planned Washburn Wind Energyproject.

Board members voted 3-2 April 24 to approve a special permit for the 70-megawatt industrial wind farm despite heavy opposition from surrounding property owners concerned about potential negative impacts on their health, quality of life and property values.

Youngblut, who owns property near the proposed turbine field, is a member of Cedar Valley Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy and spoke against the project at several public meetings.

Youngblut’s petition contends the board’s decision was “based upon an irrational, illogical or wholly unjustifiable interpretation” of the zoning ordinance.

The action filed by attorney John Holmes details numerous reasons Youngblut believes the board’s action violated provisions of the zoning ordinance.

Those include failure to provide unique and compelling evidence to rezone high-value agricultural land; failing to provide proper signed lease agreements with landowners; and excluding a definition of shadow flicker caused by turbine blades.

Youngblut also said the board exceeded its authority “because there is no written finding that the establishment, maintenance or operation of the special exception will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare” as required by the ordinance.

Washburn Wind Energy, is a wholly owned subsidiary of DeSoto-based RPM Access, which is finishing several required studies and was hoping to apply this year for building permits to complete the estimated $120 million project.

The county had yet to file a formal response to the lawsuit. Assistant County Attorney Pete Burk and officials with RPM Access could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter.