Iowa Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in turbine case

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

FAIRBANK, Ia. — The state Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from an energy company ordered to remove three wind turbines in northeast Iowa, handing another victory to a group of local residents fighting the project.

Tuesday’s decision leaves in place an order that Mason Wind and Optimum Renewables must take down the 445-foot turbines built in 2016 for an estimated $11 million, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. Mason Wind was ordered to take down the turbines after property owners and city officials accused the company of violating county zoning laws.

“This is the end of the line in the appeals process and reaffirms our original argument that these industrial wind turbines were installed illegally,” leaders of the Fairbank Citizens Against Industrial Wind Turbines Near Our City group said in a Facebook post.
Mason Wind attorneys declined to comment.

A 1973 Fayette County zoning ordinance was at the heart of the issue. The ordinance lacked specific language regarding the construction and location of modern industrial-sized wind turbines.

County zoning officials said the towers near Fairbank were “electric and gas transmission and regulating facilities” that didn’t need special permitting from the board of adjustment.

Neighboring property owners and the city sued Mason Wind and the county, alleging the interpretation was incorrect. The turbines violate county zoning laws, the lawsuit said. Mason Wind was permitted to continue building and operating the turbines during the case’s proceedings.

District Court Judge John Bauercamper ruled in 2016 that the turbines were electrical generating devices requiring board of adjustment approval.

The County Board of Supervisors has since clarified the zoning ordinance. The ordinance now requires commercial wind energy projects to receive approval from the Board of Supervisors and bans construction within a mile of an incorporated city without written permission from the city.