Stephenson County, IL- A wind farm planned for Stephenson County has hit a legal roadblock.
On Wednesday, property owners near the proposed Lancaster Wind Farm in Dakota filed suit against the county and wind farm company, Navitas Energy, to block the project from moving forward.
Three months ago, the Stephenson County Zoning Board gave the go ahead for the 35-turbine wind farm by approving a special use zoning permit. But neighboring residents are questioning the legality of the permit.
Charles Muscarello, an attorney for the residents says, "We don`t believe that the county followed the ordinances as they enacted and didn`t meet their requirements as they spelled them out."
Residents claim the zoning board`s decision to approve the permit was based on incomplete information. They say during the public zoning hearings they were denied the chance to cross-examine witnesses and a motion for a continuance was refused.
"The applicant had some three years to compile the data and prepare this application," says Muscarello. "The residents were given about three weeks to respond."
County Board Chairman John Blum says, "I am confident that the zoning board of appeals and the county board adequately met our standards of due process, all the legal requirements involved and appropriately deliberated on all aspects of this project before we rendered our decision."
But residents say their concerns go beyond the hearings. The lawsuit alleges that the wind farms pose potential safety and health hazards.
But Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy says they don`t expect the litigation to stop their move to the county.
"The county has a specific process and we went through that process as prescribed. In general, past history has shown that these lawsuits don`t have any legs, "says Christopher Moore, Managing Director of Navitas Energy.
An initial hearing on the lawsuit is set for May 29th.
For now, the county board chairman says they are going to continue working to get construction of the wind farm underway by the Spring.