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Wind farm complaint addressed at commissioners

Concerned residents of Saline County spoke during the July 9 commissioners meeting regarding conditional use permits and the project timeline of the Milligan One wind project.

Since January, EDF Renewables has owned the wind farm project, with construction set to begin later this year.

“I received a complaint in writing and my job is to do some investigating and figure out what to do,” planning and zoning administrator Lyle Weber said. “I’m here basically for guidance.”

The letter was sent by Wilber resident Sandra Koll on July 2, claiming “development of any authorized conditional use shall be commenced within one year of the date of approval of such conditional use by the Board of Commissioners.”

The permit in question was issued on Oct. 4, 2016 and extended March 9, 2018. It has been extended twice, and has expired in March of this year.

“When this extension was put it, in took several meetings and at that time, the board deemed everything was OK,” Weber said.

Koll said in her letter that work has not been done on the project, although studies and underground work had been completed in 2016.

Despite the confusion and personal interpretations of the work, Deputy County Attorney Steven Reisdorff said the complaint is invalid.

“The complaint is without merit because it was not filed in time,” Reisdorff said.

An appeal was not made within a 30-day period the first time the permit was granted by the board in 2017.

Koll said the extension was unlawfully extended and should be revoked because there has been no actual construction that has taken place within the first year.

“Let’s have them combine the two CUPs and have it run under all the (newly renewed) regulations,” Koll said.

David Levy, attorney on behalf of EDF Renewables was present at the meeting.

He said the complaint was indeed invalid because the period to appeal the extension had come and gone.

“I understand the skepticism. The word in the regulations is ‘construction’ not ‘development’, those are two very different things,” Levy said.

Because the action item on the agenda was discussion of the letter, no action was taken.