Wind farm fight moves ahead in Kansas court

The fight between a wind farm operator who wants to build near Hutchinson Kansas and Reno County is far from over after a district judge ruled the lawsuit against the county can proceed.

Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers issued an order denying a motion by Pretty Prairie Wind for an immediate appeal on an earlier ruling in the case according to the Hutch Post.

In the two-page ruling, Chambers stated he found no “substantial ground for difference of opinion on the law” that he used in making an earlier ruling to allow an interlocutory appeal, and also that there was “no need for months of discovery and a multi-day trial,” as attorneys for Pretty Prairie Wind argued allowing the appeal would cut short.

“The court does not find additional discovery or a trial for the matter is required,” the judge said. “Reno County has done an exemplary job of preparing a thorough and comprehensive record of the actions taken by the Commission and Planning Board. The record is clearly sufficient to allow the court to make its necessary findings.”

In a document provided to Hutch Post and Eagle Radio, Judge Chambers noted in his brief that he could not find any substantial grounds for difference of opinion on the law that he used in making an earlier ruling to allow an interlocutory appeal.

In the suit, Pretty Prairie Wind, which is a Kansas subsidiary formed by NextEra Energy to develop an 80-plus turbine wind farm in southeast Reno County, challenges petitions filed by landowners that forced a unanimous vote the by Reno County Commission to grant a conditional use permit for the development, as well as the commission’s acceptance of the petitions.

Pretty Prairie Wind was denied a conditional use permit to build the wind farm after many landowners in the area objected to the complex. The County Commission did vote 2-1 to approve the CUP but it needed a unanimous decision which was not the case. Pretty Prairie Wind filed legal action in the matter and the case has been making its way through the court system since.

No resolution to this will come soon. With the ruling by Judge Chambers, Pretty Prairie Wind will have 90 days to file briefs on the issue of whether actions of the Commission were “unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.”

The defendants, including Reno County and the landowners opposing the project, will also have three months to respond. Pretty Prairie Wind would then have another 45 days for the developer to offer a rebuttal. Once all of that happens, both sides will then get to provide written arguments.

Then the case will be set for oral argument.

Source: Hutch Post

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