Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fayette judge overturns zoning board on windmill project
Friday, May 1, 2009 A Fayette County judge has ruled in favor of an Oregon-based company that accused the county zoning hearing board of bias when it denied the company's permit for a special exception for 24 wind-powered turbines in Georges and Springhill townships.

In the ruling handed down late Thursday, Judge Ralph Warman reversed the hearing board's denial of the special exception for Iberdrola Renewables, formerly known as PPM Atlantic Renewable. Warman found that the zoning hearing board had "abused its discretion and committed errors of law" when it issued the denial.

Warman ordered the zoning hearing board to reconsider Iberdrola's request.

"Since the ZHB has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and render final adjudications in applications for variances and upon consideration that the ZHB has failed to do so in this case, we remand this action back to the ZHB for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," Warman wrote.

"The ZHB shall consider and grant each special exception as required by law and may impose whatever conditions they deem fit to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the community."

Iberdrola wants to use the wind turbines to produce electricity for its South Chestnut Ridge Windpower Project. In the notice of appeal, Iberdrola indicated the 24 windmills were part of a total of 27 that were to be installed over a 3.5-mile section of Chestnut Ridge in Wharton, Georges and Springhill townships.

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