Updated 8/17: Enel sues county, zoning administrator

Gordon Woods
Posted 8/11/21

Enel sues county, zoning administrator

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Updated 8/17: Enel sues county, zoning administrator

Posted

CLINTON — Enel Green Energy, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, filed suit in DeWitt County against the county and the county’s zoning administrator.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, representatives for the county made their first appearance in court.  Judge Rosenbaum has been assigned to preside over the case.

Online circuit court records show Enel filed for miscellaneous remedy against the plaintiffs listed as “DeWitt County” and “DeWitt County Zoning Administrator.”  County board administrative assistant Dee Rentmeister has been serving as temporary zoning administrator pending hiring of a new zoning official.  The county’s full-time zoning administrator resigned unexpectedly earlier this summer.

Enel is suing after the county board, in July, voted to suspend issuance of building permits for the Alta Farms II wind energy project. 

A majority of board members voted July 22 to suspend further building permits for the Alta Farms II project until its developer Enel Green Energy can prove it would be able to curtail the turbines during periods of severe weather.

The procedure known as “curtailment” involves slowing or stopping the rotation of wind turbine blades.  This is believed to reduce potential interference with DOPLAR weather radar used in tracking major storms and tornadoes.

During the county’s land use committee meeting August 9, committee chairman and board chairman Terry Ferguson advised not pushing the issue about building permits.  Enel filed its suit two days later.

In its suit, Alta Farms asks the court to order the county and Rentmeister, as acting zoning administrator, to immediately issue 15 building permits for a series of wind turbines identified by number in the court documents.  Alta Farms further asserts there is “no legal or factual basis” for the county refusing to issue the permits.

The Alta Farms filing states the company’s applications for the building permits complied with the requirements of the county’s zoning ordinance, its wind energy ordinance and Special Use Permit (SUP) ordinance.  The suit claims, too, that any use by the county of drainage district laws to deny the permits has “no legal basis.”

Alta Farms also is claiming “substantial damages” caused by construction delays.

 There has been some question by residents attending the county’s meetings whether the board usurped the zoning administrator’s authority by suspending Enel’s building permits.