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Washburn Wind Energy wins time extension  

Credit:  Tim Jamison | The Courier | Mar 27, 2019 | wcfcourier.com ~~

WATERLOO – Washburn Wind Energy has been granted more time to build a 35-turbine wind energy farm in southwest Black Hawk County.

Members of the county’s Board of Adjustment voted 3-2 Tuesday to give the company until July 1, 2020, to start construction on the project.

Washburn Wind Energy, based in DeSoto, had been required to begin construction within one year under a controversial special permit the Board of Adjustment approved April 24.

The company asked for the extension noting a lawsuit filed by neighboring farmer Harold Youngblut, that challenges the legality of the special permit, was still being litigated in Black Hawk County District Court.

“It is unreasonable and unwise for Washburn to commence construction of the project unless or until it has a purchase agreement in place and the legal proceedings have been completed,” said Kathleen Law, an attorney for Washburn Wind Energy.

“The business and economic risks and costs associated with preparing for and commencing construction on the project are far too great for Washburn without knowing the outcome of the legal proceeding before doing so,” she added.

The original decision to approve the project last year followed a five-hour meeting that drew hundreds of project opponents and supporters. This week’s request for an extension drew a handful of landowners from the area but no public comments.

“We are not here tonight to reconsider the vote we took last April,” said board member Larry Oltrogge. “What we’re here tonight for is whether or not to grant the extension of time.”

The board’s vote, which also includes a Dec. 31, 2022, completion deadline, mirrored the vote on the original special permit. Board members Lucas Jenson, Diane Depken and Oltrogge voted in favor of the extension, while Steve Rosauer and Dr. Laval Peloquin voted against it.

Meanwhile, Peloquin questioned why the board members had never been notified about the lawsuit filed against the board last May and had not been contacted by the attorneys representing the members.

“We are the Board of Adjustment, so we need to know,” he said. “To bypass that is, I believe, inappropriate.”

Planner Aric Schroeder said he would relay the concern to the County Attorney’s Office and the attorneys hired by the county’s insurance carrier to defend the suit. Schroeder noted the board members were not being sued individually.

But Roseaur said the board members do have reputations to maintain that can hinge on the outcome of the suit. “We get the black eye out of it too if it goes the wrong way,” he said.

Source:  Tim Jamison | The Courier | Mar 27, 2019 | wcfcourier.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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