A Delaware County judge will preside over cases that could determine the legitimacy of Henry County’s guidelines concerning industrial wind turbines.
Judge Linda Ralu Wolf of Delaware Circuit Court No. 3 will replace Henry Circuit Court 1 Judge Bob Witham regarding two court suits that claim the Henry County Planning Commission failed to give proper notice in October 2009 of the public hearing for a new proposed wind energy conversion system (WECS) ordinance.
Legal notices in the Oct. 8, 2009 edition of The Courier-Times show three notices for Henry County Planning Commission hearings that include the date, time and location of those meetings.
A fourth notice, also published Oct. 8, 2009, reads “Notice is hereby given that the Henry County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing in regard to the proposed Wind Ordinance. The hearing will be held in the Old Circuit Court Room, Henry County Courthouse, 101 S. Main Street, New Castle, IN 47362.”
A notice from then-zoning administrator Adam Hollars to The Courier-Times contained no date or time for the wind ordinance public hearing.
Petitioners from Middletown, Straughn, New Castle, Shirley, Spiceland, Mooreland, Sulphur Springs and Hagerstown also argue that the planning commission does not have legal authority to approve meteorological towers because they are not explicitly listed in the “Utilities” section of the Henry County Development Code.
The respondents in the petition are the Henry County Planning Commission, the Henry County Commissioners, and Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC, a subsidiary of Calpine Corp.
Witham recused himself from the WECS ordinance case earlier this month. He said he has a family member who sat on the planning commission when the ordinance in question was originally passed, and he felt it was best to step away from the case.
Following the Henry County court system rules, a special panel was selected to replace Witham as the judge for both cases. The panel included Judge Wolf, Jay Superior Court Judge Max C. Ludy, and Randolph Superior Court Judge Peter D. Haviza.
The petitioners struck one judge from the panel and the respondents struck another, leaving Wolf as the appointed judge June 19.
Wolf officially accepted jurisdiction over the cases Thursday.