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Greenwich Windpark vs. Ohio Power Sitting Board

Issues concerning the proposed Greenwich Windpark are being addressed today during oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court.

One of the main issues is the minimum distance “from a wind turbine to the exterior of the nearest habitable residential structure located on an adjacent property,” according to court documents. That distance also is referred to as the “setback distance.”

“The minimum distance … must be no less than 1,125 feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine’s blade at 90 degrees to the structure. The minimum distance from a turbine’s base to the property line of the wind farm facility must be at least 1.1 times the total height of the turbine as measured from its base to the tip of the blade at its highest point,” said Matt Butler, spokesman for the Ohio Power Sitting Board (OPSB).

Representatives for Greenwich Neighbors United and the state board will address the court. The hearing goes before the Ohio Supreme Court because the OPSB oversees energy policies in the state.

The mission of the OPSB, according to its website, is to “support sound energy policies that provide for the installation of energy capacity and transmission infrastructure for the benefit of the Ohio citizens, promoting the state’s economic interests and protecting the environment and land use.”

Butler said the issues and questions being addressed before the Ohio Supreme Court are:

• Did the board “act unreasonably and unlawfully” when it didn’t apply minimum setback requirements effective Sept. 15, 2014 to the Greenwich Windpark’s request to add three new turbine models to a commercial wind farm?

• Did the addition of new turbines require the Greenwich Windpark to obtain new setback waivers from landowners?

• Was the OPSB required to hold a public hearing about the changes to the wind farm?

• Has the board failed to create rules as required by the legislature to establish reasonable regulations regarding wind farms?

Attorney Matt Pritchard is representing Greenwich Neighbors United. He said one of the main issues is making sure the OPSB complied with the waiver process, especially since new setback distance standards were established after the Greenwich Windpark started. The board approved the project in August 2014.

It’s undisputed that not all of the 124 property owners signed the necessary waivers, Pritchard said. It’s unknown exactly how many signatures there are.

“At least 17 of the 25 (wind turbines) violated the setback,” Pritchard said.

The Greenwich Neighbors United attorney said if the court rules in favor of the group, it would be allowed to have new hearings about the project.

Greenwich Township resident Kevin Ledet said he owns 57 acres “on the fringe of the project” and believes Greenwich Neighbors United has a good case.

“There are people who own a lot more than that,” he added, noting that the OPSB hasn’t done a good job delivering information about the project. “There are a lot of people affected by this.”

Ledet said it’s believed 62 percent of the 25 proposed wind turbines will violate the minimum setback distance and “none of us have signed the waiver.”

Butler, who represents OPSB, said he would allow Greenwich Neighbors United to speak for itself, but he believes the project has been grandfathered into the new minimum distances.