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Judge denies Seneca Wind’s request for preliminary injunction

A judge denied Seneca Wind LLC’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Seneca Wind LLC is seeking immediate access to properties to conduct tests and surveys.

The company is proposing to develop a wind farm of up to 212 megawatts in Seneca County’s Scipio, Reed, Venice, Eden and Bloom townships. The project would be built on about 25,000 acres of privately leased land and would use 77 turbines and related infrastructure, court records state.

Judge Robert C. Pollex, who previously served in Wood County Common Pleas Court, wrote Seneca Wind LLC has not shown an urgent need or emergency justifying preliminary relief.

He previously ruled he did not have enough information to grant Seneca Wind a temporary restraining order.

Pollex had been appointed to the case by Ohio Supreme Court after Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley stepped aside from the case.

The complaint was filed against Christopher Carry, Elizabeth Carry, Melissa Carry, Alice Jane Chappell, Marvin Hahler, Raymond Hahler, David Holmer, Doris Holmer, Danette Martin, Brandon Martin, Debra Martin, John Martin, Betty Oakleaf, Brad Oakleaf, Gary Oakleaf, Theresa Oakleaf, Eugene Price, Judith Price, Cory Swartzmiller, David Swartzmiller, Barbara Vogel, Donald Vogel, Dale Wagner, Shirley Wagner, Joseph Willman, Marilyn Willman, Mary Joan Willman, Thomas Willman, Bonnie Ziegler and Mark Ziegler.

According to court records, Joseph Willman, Marilyn Willman, Mary Joan Willman and Thomas Willman were dismissed from the case.

The complaint states that each defendant refused to allow Seneca Wind access to their properties and that Seneca Wind needs to access the properties to analyze, plan and construct the project and to provide key information to Ohio Power Siting Board as it considers the application.

During a hearing in February, attorney Kara Herrnstein of Bricker & Eckler Attorneys at Law had said each defendant has a lease granting Seneca Wind the right to access and use property for a wind farm project in return for payments. The project is in the construction phase, the leases have not expired and Seneca Wind has the right to act under the leases, she said.

During the hearing, Brad Oakleaf, who is building a home, testified about his father purchasing parcels at an auction Jan. 21, 2017.

“Your lease is expired. You have no right to be on my property,” he said.

Pollex wrote that Seneca Wind says it has the right to access properties due to leases and that the leases still are in effect because of exercising an option to proceed with construction and start a 36-month construction phase.

Despite expiration of leases after 10 years, Seneca Wind seeks access to the defendants’ property to conduct activity that may permanently affect their property, he wrote.

It has not obtained a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, which is required by Ohio law before being permitted to start construction, from Ohio Power Siting Board, he wrote.

More proceedings to address contract issues are to be set, according to court records.