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Farmer files appeal over Black Hawk Co. wind farm

WATERLOO – A farmer is asking the Iowa Supreme Court to stop a planned wind energy project in southern Black Hawk County.

Harold Youngblut filed an appeal Thursday challenging District Court Judge Kellyann Lekar’s April 29 ruling in favor of Washburn Wind Energy’s 35-turbine wind farm.

The notice filed by Youngblut’s attorney, John Holmes, claims the district court erred when it failed to allow Youngblut and others to testify the turbine locations are currently used for agricultural purposes as defined in the county zoning ordinance.

The county Board of Adjustment voted 3-2 last year to approve a special permit for the wind farm in Eagle Township east of Hudson despite heavy opposition from nearby homeowners, who voiced concerns about their health, property values and quality of life.

Youngblut sued, claiming the county board’s action violated the county zoning ordinance.

But Lekar found the board “acted in accordance with the zoning ordinances and the Iowa Code; its decision is supported by substantial evidence and the decision is not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.”

Meanwhile, more than 30 landowners who stand to benefit by leasing their land for the turbines have intervened in the lawsuit to protect their interests.

An attorney representing the landowners previously indicated they may ask the courts to require Youngblut to post a bond to cover their potential losses should Youngblut fail to prevail on the appeal.

Washburn Wind Energy officials said the legal action has prevented them from finding buyers for the project to date. The company, a subsidiary of RPM Access, of DeSoto, has less than one year left to begin construction under the special permit approved by the Board of Adjustment.