FAIRBANK, Iowa (AP) - The state appeals court has ruled that a company built three wind turbines in violation of a county zoning ordinance in northeast Iowa.
Mason Wind and Optimum Renewables now faces a court ruling to remove the three 445-foot (136-meter) wind towers east of Fairbank, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported .
The company had challenged a 2016 Fayette County District Court ruling to the appeals court, which upheld the lower court decision Wednesday.
The city of Fairbank and neighboring property owners filed a lawsuit in 2015 after expressing concerns that the turbines would lower property values and quality of life.
The district court needed to determine whether county officials misinterpreted the county’s zoning ordinance when approving the wind turbine project. County officials said a special permit approved by the county Board of Adjustment wasn’t needed because the turbines were “electrical transmission and regulating” facilities.
But the district court ruled that the turbines were electrical generating devices that did require approval from the board.
“The question is whether or not a wind turbine that produces electricity is or is not an electrical transmission and regulation facility,” the ruling said. “As commonly understood, this language would not encompass wind turbines.”
Attorneys on both sides didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
In response, Fayette County has amended its zoning ordinance to clarify the process for locating wind turbines. The new ordinance mandates any commercial wind energy project to receive approval from the Board of Supervisors. It also doesn’t allow construction within one mile of an incorporated city unless the city has given written permission.
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com
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