Lawsuit against Enel, county dismissed

Gordon Woods
Posted 3/18/21

Lawsuit against Enel, county dismissed

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Lawsuit against Enel, county dismissed


CLINTON — The same week the Regional Planning Commission voted to not recommend the county rescind a special use permit for the Alta Farms II wind energy project, plaintiffs opposing the project in two lawsuits against the county filed to drop their suits.

On Wednesday, a suit brought against DeWitt County and Enel Energy was dismissed without prejudice at the plaintiffs’ request, according to circuit court records.  The suit was filed in Oct. 2020 by 69 residents living within the footprint of the planned wind project.

The suit alleged the county board failed to follow the county’s wind energy ordinance when it granted Enel Energy the special use permit in 2020.  Among the points of the suit, plaintiffs claimed the county also failed to require a complete decommissioning plan for the project.

Concerns of the residents filing the suit include safety issues caused by potential wind tower interference with weather radar, sound levels and negative effects on surrounding property values, among others.

The day before the suit was dropped, a tie vote taken by the county’s Regional Planning Commission resulted in the commission’s not forwarding a recommendation to the county board to declare Enel’s special use permit null and void.  The RPC vote was 3-3 with one abstention.

Opponents of the wind project had hoped the RPC would support rescinding the permit.  The commission majority had, up to that point, backed the effort to stop the permit being granted.  Had the RPC approved the recommendation, it would have gone before the full county board on Thursday.

The board ultimately canceled its scheduled meeting because of a power outage.

In February, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit told county board members they would be legally justified in declaring the special use permit null and void.

Since the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, plaintiffs would be free to refile their case in the future.

On Wednesday, the Village of Wapella also filed to have its similar suit against the county and Enel dismissed.