County board votes for six-month moratorium on new wind farm permits

Board members do not debate declaring Enel special use permit null and void


CLINTON — During its Mar. 25 regular meeting, the DeWitt County Board approved a plan to suspend for 180 days approval of any new special use permits for wind energy projects. 

During that period, the board will conduct a review of its current wind energy ordinance with an eye toward making changes it feels are necessary.

The board’s decision comes at a time when opponents of the Alta Farms wind energy project are asking the county to declare the project’s special use permit null and void.  A recent tie-vote by the county’s Regional Planning Commission (RPC) resulted in the commission’s failure to recommend the permit be rescinded.

County board member Buck Carter recommended the moratorium on new special use permits and suggested the moratorium end in six months.

Board chairman Terry Ferguson felt the review process could be completed in that time.

Two weeks ago, plaintiffs in a pair of lawsuits against the county and Enel Energy filed to have their suits dismissed.  The two lawsuits were filed in Oct. 2020, one by a group of residents living in the area of the planned wind project and one by the Village of Wapella and its mayor.

Among other issues, the suits claimed the county failed to follow its own ordinance when approving the special use permit for the project.

The day before the first suit was dropped, the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) voted 3-3 with one abstention to recommend the county board declare the Enel special use permit null and void.  Up to that point, a majority of RPC members had supported denial of the permit, which was ultimately granted by the county.

Opponents of the wind project had hoped the RPC would support rescinding the permit. 

The county board has not taken up discussion on rescinding the current Enel special use permit.