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Wind farm proceeds despite litigation

Chevron Global Power Co. will begin construction on its 11-turbine wind farm project northeast of Evansville despite the litigation from its neighbors, a spokeswoman said Friday. "Our plan is to proceed with the project unless instructed not to," Jennifer Silva said Wednesday. ...The neighbors filed a petition on April 24 asking 7th District Court to review and invalidate the county commission's approval of two conditional use permits and for a variance. They claimed the county violated its own Wind Energy Conversion System Emergency Regulations approved last fall, according to the petitioners' attorney Michael McGrady.

Chevron Global Power Co. will begin construction on its 11-turbine wind farm project northeast of Evansville despite the litigation from its neighbors, a spokeswoman said Friday.

"Our plan is to proceed with the project unless instructed not to," Jennifer Silva said Wednesday.

The company has hired general contractor Signal Wind Energy LLC of Chattanooga, Tenn., which is recruiting Casper area contractors, Silva said. The company also needs to finish the details on a Natrona County required bond for the decommissioning and dismantling of the wind farm decades from now, she said.

Meanwhile, Natrona County District Court has set a June 30 hearing for the company and the county to argue why a judge should dismiss a petition by the wind farms' neighbors opposing the project on 880 acres of the former Texaco refinery property north of the North Platte River, according to court documents.

Chevron Global intended this week to prepare roads and the foundations for the immense towers, nacelles and blades for the 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines that will rise more than 250 feet.

But some neighbors have objected for legal, property rights, health and other issues.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Chevron Global Power Co. will begin construction on its 11-turbine wind farm project northeast of Evansville despite the litigation from its neighbors, a spokeswoman said Friday.

"Our plan is to proceed with the project unless instructed not to," Jennifer Silva said Wednesday.

The company has hired general contractor Signal Wind Energy LLC of Chattanooga, Tenn., which is recruiting Casper area contractors, Silva said. The company also needs to finish the details on a Natrona County required bond for the decommissioning and dismantling of the wind farm decades from now, she said.

Meanwhile, Natrona County District Court has set a June 30 hearing for the company and the county to argue why a judge should dismiss a petition by the wind farms' neighbors opposing the project on 880 acres of the former Texaco refinery property north of the North Platte River, according to court documents.

Chevron Global intended this week to prepare roads and the foundations for the immense towers, nacelles and blades for the 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines that will rise more than 250 feet.

But some neighbors have objected for legal, property rights, health and other issues.

The neighbors -- Michael Tescher, Carol Fields, Stan Mundy, Veronica Mundy, Ernest Linton, Carole Linton, Steve Cox, and the Elkhorn Creek Ranch LLC -- filed a petition on April 24 asking 7th District Court to review and invalidate the county commission's approval of two conditional use permits and for a variance.

They claimed the county violated its own Wind Energy Conversion System Emergency Regulations approved last fall, according to the petitioners' attorney Michael McGrady.

Specifically, the neighbors say the county's regulations governing wind farms have a contradiction about whether the towers should be one-quarter mile or one-half mile from residences. Some of those buffers from the towers overlap their properties.

Likewise, some neighbors say the towers pose health hazards such as the strobing effect created when the turbines' blades interrupt the sun's rays leading to possible seizures with people with autism and epilepsy.

For these and other reasons, they want these permits thrown out.

However, the company and the county responded only they, and not the petitioners, are the legal parties to the permitting issue.

As such, the petitioners were not entitled to a formal notification of the permits even though some of them attended the Feb. 3 commission meeting.

There's the timing problem, too, with the petition filing.

On Feb. 23, the petitioners' attorney Michael McGrady asked interim County Attorney Heather Duncan-Malone for documents about the permits, and they received copies of the Feb. 3 resolutions on March 25. The attorneys claim that was the first time they learned the board had approved the permits.

That set in motion the 30-day time to file an appeal of the commission's decision, the petitioners said.

Neither Chevron Global nor Natrona County buy that argument.

The petitioners knew of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission's public hearings about the wind farm project, and several of the petitioners attended the Feb. 3 commission meeting, wrote Nicol Thompson Kramer, attorney for the Natrona County Commission.

"Timely filing of a petition for review of an agency action is mandatory and jurisdictional," Kramer wrote.

Subsequent correspondence between McGrady and Duncan-Malone indicated the petitioners acknowledged the county's "final agency action" happened on Feb. 3, when the 30-day clock started ticking for a review, according to the county.

Chevron Global's response is similar.

"Without a specific timeliness requirement and a definition of 'party,' petitioners could have the right to ask for a review of a Board's decision months and even years after a final agency decision," according to Chevron Global's attorneys Jenifer Scoggin and Matt Kelly.

"Agency actions need finality and without these requirements, finality could never be achieved," they wrote.

Reach Tom Morton at (307) 266-0592, or at tom.morton@trib.com. Read his blog at tribtown.trib.com/TomMorton/blog.

News Tracker

Last we knew: Some neighbors of Chevron Global Power Co.'s proposed 11-turbine wind farm northeast of Evansville petitioned 7th District Court to invalidate the conditional use permits approved by the Natrona County Commission on Feb. 3.

The latest: The company and the county responded the neighbors were too late in responding to the commission's actions.

What's next: The company is applying for the building permits on the 880-acre site; and will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the Evansville Town Hall.


Source: http://www.trib.com/article...

MAY 20 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20387-wind-farm-proceeds-despite-litigation
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