NextEra Energy Resources withdrew a lawsuit on Friday that the company had filed against Clinton County officials for blocking the construction of a wind farm in the county.
In 2016, the Clinton County zoning board, along with the county commissioners, voted to limit the height of wind turbines to 150 feet. That vote prevented construction of nearly 500-feet tall wind turbines in the county.
NextEra Energy, based in Florida, then sued the county in 2016, claiming the ordinance was not properly approved.
St. Joseph lawyer Seth Wright served as attorney for NextEra Energy for the case. Wright also serves as president of the St. Joseph School District Board. Platte City lawyer Robert Shaw represented a group of landowners intervening in support of the ordinance in the county.
The dismissal of the case means the county ordinance will remain in effect and a wind farm cannot be constructed. Wright said the company had no comment on the dismissal.
Shaw said that his clients, from the beginning of public hearings on the issue, laid out a legal framework for their case for the ordinance.
“We put together a record that was sufficient to support that ordinance the commissioners adopted,” Shaw said. “We were very confident that we had a record in place and legal arguments in place to win. This was a group of local landowners that went up against one of the richest corporations in this country and have been successful.”
The planning and zoning board in nearby Washington Township, which is located in DeKalb County, also voted to adopt a similar ordinance pertaining to wind turbine development as Clinton County.
On Friday, Shaw said NextEra filed two separate legal actions to continue their lawsuit against Washington Township. NextEra and the township have been in a legal dispute for more than a year.
He said NextEra filed a petition claiming breach of contract on an alleged mediation agreement. In addition, they filed a motion for summary judgement in Platte County which questions the validity of the township zoning ordinance.
Shaw said NextEra is requesting financial damages against Washington Township in an amount to be determined at trial in excess of $25,000 and attorney fees.
The Washington Township zoning board was originally established in 1995 after a vote by the residents.
Legal council for Washington Township will file a response for both actions. A court date for that suit has not been set.
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