- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Two Perquimans County residents are suing to block a wind farm in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.

Jillanne Gigi Badawi and her husband, Stephen Owens, are asking the office of administrative hearings to force state regulators to conduct a new review of the project, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported (http://bit.ly/1KQDT6j).

The planned Amazon Wind Farm is to be built in in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties.

Officials have already begun access roads for the project. The company plans to pour concrete foundations for 104 turbines early next year.

The couple lives less than a mile from the turbines and is worried about property values, esthetics, noise and potential dangers for birds.

“I’m concerned it will make our beautiful county, quite frankly, ugly,” Badawi said. “Each turbine is the size of the Washington Monument. These things are huge monstrosities.”

The couple’s lawsuit was filed last week against the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, which is the agency that would oversee the regulatory review they’re requesting. Iberdrola, the project developer, is not a party to the suit.

In April, the environmental quality department concluded that the project is not subject to that state’s 2013 wind siting act. They said the law specifically exempted Iberdrola’s wind farm because the project had already received safety determination letters from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It was a tough call,” said DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart last month in an interview. “It was the first time the statute had been interpreted. Ultimately, as long as you had an FAA determination on the date, even if you lost it later or changed it, you’re done.”

Iberdrola has secured about a dozen permits, approvals and certificates for the wind farm.

“The project has all the local, state and federal permits needed thanks to years of scientific study evaluating the site and a rigorous review process,” said Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman.

Badawi and Owens are not the first to raise this issue. In August, two Pasquotank County residents made similar claims to the Office of Administrative Hearings, one of which the OAH dismissed, saying it didn’t show how the resident was harmed by the wind farm. The other claim, filed as a citizen lawsuit, was voluntarily withdrawn.

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Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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