Group Files Suit Appealing
Lee County Board Action Favoring Mainstream’s Wind Project
By Sandy Kruse
Nearly 60 residents and landowners who are likely to be adversely affected by the proposed industrial wind development owned by the Green River Wind Farm Phase I, LLC of Mainstream Power Ltd. have filed a lawsuit in the 15th Circuit Court in Lee County to appeal decisions reached by the Lee County Board.
Sandy Kruse, a spokesperson for the group, observed that the group of plaintiffs is very diverse. Representing primarily individuals owning over 13,000 acres of property, ranging from single-family homes on small acreages to large farms, all in close proximity to one or more of the turbine towers. Their operations will be significantly harmed if the turbine towers are allowed to be constructed.
Each of the plaintiffs made a financial commitment to support the cost of bringing this court action. For some of these property owners, their property comes from a lifetime of savings.
“Clearly this action is necessary to save the value of our homes and farms,” Kruse stated, “and to protect the environment, in the face of so much evidence at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearings that the construction of so many turbine towers in this populated and fertile farming area will cause very lasting damage.”
Nancy Rutkowski, another spokesperson for the group, pointed to the fact that much of the area proposed for the development is located within an established floodplain. Further, Rutkowski stated that “there were a lot of very qualified expert witnesses who testified before the ZBA on the very strong evidence of these real harms, and this was apparently persuasive to the ZBA in recommending that Lee County deny the permits.”
Kendall Guither, a third spokesperson for the group of plaintiffs, said, “People who attended even some of the many Zoning Board of Appeals meetings on the permitting for this project know that there is great evidence on the harm this project will cause. Also, we believe there is evidence that certain members of the Lee County board acted inappropriately and reached a decision that is hard to square with the findings of the ZBA.”
The ZBA after hearings that lasted many months recommended that the permits be denied and made specific factual findings that the project will exceed noise limits at some property lines, will create shadow flicker which may affect non-participating residences, will impact some people’s health, and could impact property values, and will affect the visual features of the area. The hearings also revealed that the project will impact aerial spraying and the operations of local landing areas, may impact storm-water runoff, is proposed for a designated Environmental Corridor, did not agree to numerous Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources recommended mitigation measures, would likely damage roads and affect traffic, and did not include an adequate decommissioning plan.
Accordingly, this group of plaintiffs, through their attorney, Rick Porter with Hinshaw & Culbertson in Rockford, Illinois, has requested that the Court determine that the conditional use permits granted to Green River Wind LLC in May of this year are void. The complaint identifies specific procedural errors that accompanied the actions leading up to the County’s grant of conditional use permits to Green River Wind LLC.
In addition, the complaint describes why the Court should conclude, as recommended by the ZBA, that a grant of conditional use permits by the County Board should be denied as not supported by the facts or the law. Finally, the complaint asks the Court to find that the County Board’s action is “arbitrary and capricious” by #4350929.1, referencing for each plaintiff the harm that will be done to their property values as a result of permitting uses that are inconsistent with the residential, environmental preservation and agricultural uses that have been in existence ever since Lee County first established a zoning ordinance.
For questions about the actions taken by this group, contact their attorney, Rick Porter, at 815-490-4920, Nancy Rutkowski at 815-379-9250, Sandy Kruse at 815-379-2089 or Kendall Guither, at 815-379-2498.