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Wind farm challenging Planning Commission

The Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC filed an official appeal Thursday about a decision the Henry County Planning Commission made in July.

The planning commission voted 4-4 on a request from the wind farm to build more than three dozen turbines in the northwestern part of Henry County. The vote came at the end of a public hearing July 23 in Bundy Auditorium.

Attorney Matthew Price, of Bingham Greenebaum Doll, filed a Notice of Appeal on behalf of Big Blue River Wind Farm July 26.

At the time, Price wrote, “Big Blue River files this Notice of Appeal to preserve its rights in the event that it is determined that the 4-4 vote on Question 3 constitutes an official action that is appealable.”

Planning commission members then voted 7-0 Sept. 19 to reaffirm that the 4-4 vote was the same as a formal denial of Big Blue River Wind Farm’s request. This vote was on a “Findings of Fact and Decision.”

The wind farm, a subsidiary of Calpine Corporation, filed paperwork Thursday with the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) “appealing the Planning Commission’s decision on Planning Commission Case B: 2228.”

In a Sept. 24 letter to the BZA, Price argued the planning commission’s decision that the case was “deemed denied” was “a conclusion that lacks legal basis and is not supported by substantial evidence.”

Price went on to state the September “Findings of Fact and Decision” cites “no evidence in support of a denial.”

Price pointed to the Henry County Planning Commission’s Rules of Procedure to say a case cannot be “deemed denied” as a result of an indecisive vote.

On behalf of the wind farm, Price requested the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals to either instruct the planning commission to take another vote on the original request “to issue a final decision supported by substantive findings,” or review the “alleged ‘denial’ of Big Blue River’s application” and issue a decision based on the evidence presented to the planning commission.

The BZA is scheduled to hear the administrative appeal at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 in the Henry County Courthouse, 101 S. Main St., New Castle.

The filing states: “As this is an administrative appeal no public comment will be taken during the hearing and no additional information, written or otherwise, will be a part of the hearing or record, except what is presented by the appellant or BZA staff.”

The BZA hearing may be continued from time to time as needed.

All information concerning the appeal is on file in the BZA office, 1201 Race St., Ste. 214, New Castle or online at www.henryco.net/PlanningCommUpcomingCases.aspx.