Article

Going to court

A group of Grant County landowners has filed a lawsuit seeking to block construction of a Mount Storm area wind-power project.

Named as defendants in the suit are NedPower Mount Storm and Shell WindEnergy Inc.
The plaintiffs allege the project's wind turbines will hurt property values, harm local and migratory wildlife and create very little economic benefit to the county or state.
The suit was filed under something known as the "common law doctrine of private nuisance."
Filing suit against the project in Grant County Circuit Court were Jerome E. Burch, Levi Miller, Frank Fitzpatrick, Charles E. Thomas, Richard Fiedler, Robert F. Hurley and John T. Mitchell.
They want the court to shut down the project, which is due to start in the spring. Plaintiffs also want to recover their legal fees and any other relief "as justice and the nature of the cause may require."
Burch lives at Mount Storm, while Miller is a New Creek resident. The others live out-of-state, but own second homes in the New Creek area. All affected properties are located within .5 to 1.8 miles of turbine sites atop the Allegheny Front.
NedPower wants to construct 200 turbines along a 14-mile stretch of the front, located between Stoney River and Mount Pisgah. Turbine towers would stand 210-450 feet high, with three blades of about 115 feet in length.
The suit... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Named as defendants in the suit are NedPower Mount Storm and Shell WindEnergy Inc.
The plaintiffs allege the project's wind turbines will hurt property values, harm local and migratory wildlife and create very little economic benefit to the county or state.
The suit was filed under something known as the "common law doctrine of private nuisance."
Filing suit against the project in Grant County Circuit Court were Jerome E. Burch, Levi Miller, Frank Fitzpatrick, Charles E. Thomas, Richard Fiedler, Robert F. Hurley and John T. Mitchell.
They want the court to shut down the project, which is due to start in the spring. Plaintiffs also want to recover their legal fees and any other relief "as justice and the nature of the cause may require."
Burch lives at Mount Storm, while Miller is a New Creek resident. The others live out-of-state, but own second homes in the New Creek area. All affected properties are located within .5 to 1.8 miles of turbine sites atop the Allegheny Front.
NedPower wants to construct 200 turbines along a 14-mile stretch of the front, located between Stoney River and Mount Pisgah. Turbine towers would stand 210-450 feet high, with three blades of about 115 feet in length.
The suit claims the project is a nuisance because equipment will create noise and poses an "eyesore ... that destroys the natural beauty of the countryside and create a 'flicker' or 'strobe' effect during the time the sun is near the horizon."
Additionally, the suit alleges spinning blades will kill migratory birds and bats, while also harming the habitat of local wildlife.
Plaintiffs say local wildlife plays an important role in attracting tourists and vacation home owners to the area.
Project opponents fear loss of wildlife habitat and scenic beauty will affect more than just their own property values. The complaint claims lower property values would also befall "all persons similarly situated to plaintiffs plus other property owners in Grant County who are not close to the proposed turbines but whose property values are supported by the economic activity created through second home and retirement home construction, tourism and recreation."
Opponents contend the project will become a greater eyesore in the years ahead. That's because they predict its maintenance will decline as government tax credits expire, leaving a "poorly maintained and deteriorating wind energy facility ... that may one day be a derelict."
Plaintiffs claim leases worked out by NedPower with Allegheny Front landowners don't include promises to remove abandoned towers and turbines.
"When tax subsidies run out ... citizens of Grant County are likely to be left with a blight of 200 wind turbines standing 400 feet over the majestic Allegheny Front," stated the complaint.
The suit continued: "Societal benefits of the proposed 200 wind turbines are insignificant and, therefore, such a facility ... will constitute a common law nuisance."
The suit attacks project supporters' claims that wind-power facilities will bring economic benefits to the community. Plaintiffs agree there will be 6-12 months of construction jobs, plus 10-15 regular positions with the project's maintenance and operations staff.
However, plaintiffs contend wages and tax advantages to the county from building just two $400,000 retirement homes would equal that gained from the wind power project.
Plaintiffs compared the proposed towers' height to some other well-known landmarks in an effort to illustrate the project's threat to scenic beauty. They were the state Capitol (292 feet tall), U.S. Capitol (300 feet tall) and the Statue of Liberty (300 feet tall).

Source: http://www.grantcountypress...

DEC 9 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/642-going-to-court
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