TUSCOLA – A wind-farm-zoning lawsuit against Murdock Township will move forward in Douglas County court after a judge ruled that some of EDP Renewables’ complaints against the township’s new wind regulations should continue.
Houston-based EDP initially filed a complaint against Murdock Township in November of last year after it enacted zoning ordinances setting new regulations for wind turbines. The company says the rules, which include requiring turbines to be a greater distance from residences than what Douglas County regulations require, would make it impossible to build the proposed 200-megawatt Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Murdock and Newman townships in northeastern Douglas County.
Basically, EDP is challenging the validity of Murdock Township’s zoning, arguing that the Douglas County wind regulations that have been in place for some time should supersede those of the township.
Murdock Township responded to the lawsuit with motions asking the court to dismiss the EDP complaints, and Thursday, Judge Gary A. Webber denied some of the motions, but not all of them.
So the lawsuit will continue on the EDP complaints that remain.
Neighboring Newman Township also recently enacted zoning regulations more stringent than the county’s, and EDP Renewables filed a similar complaint in circuit court on Feb. 21 against Newman, asking the court for injunctive relief.
EDP had made the same request for an injunction in the Murdock Township case, but the judge denied it.
An initial court hearing in the Newman case is expected in coming weeks.
EDP has argued in its complaint that Murdock Township has no statutory authority to pass its zoning provisions, that those provisions should be superseded by the county’s wind ordinance, and that the provisions are improperly discriminatory against the Harvest Ridge project, because it’s been in the works for years and Murdock’s ordinance was arbitrarily enacted.
Ryan Brown, executive vice president with EDP Renewables, said the company is encouraged by the judge’s decision Thursday, and EDP will continue to develop its project according to the county guidelines.
“We look forward to constructing the project later this year and generating clean energy, tax revenues, and jobs in Douglas County for years to come,” he said in a news release.
According to EDP, the company has spent more than $55 million on the project since it first began considering the area for a wind farm in the form of landowner payments, equipment purchases, road repairs, and detailed engineering and design work.
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