New lawsuit filed against Highland New Wind
Monterey, VA – In Highland County Circuit Court Friday a lawsuit was filed by a group of 9 Highland County landowners against the County, the County Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors and Highland New Wind Development.
Highland New Wind Development (HNWD) wants to build a wind turbine electric generating facility in the county and the Board of Supervisors has issued a conditional use permit for the project. The Highland County planning commission reviewed HNWD’s application to see if the project fit into the county’s comprehensive plan. State code required that the local planning commission review the application.
The suit targets last week’s decision by the Highland County Planning Commission finding the project in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.
In the suit the plaintiffs claim that the planning commission lacked jurisdiction to conduct a review of HNWD’s application because the commission can only conduct such reviews before a project is authorized by the Board of Supervisors. They claim it was illegal for the Board of Supervisors to issue a conditional use permit for the project with the condition that it be reviewed later by the planning commission.
The plaintiffs also claim that because the Board of Supervisors can override the planning commission’s findings, the issuance of the conditional use permit before the planning commission’s review pre empted a valid review.
The plaintiffs say that the planning commission lacked authority to find the project in accord with the comprehensive plan because the Board of Supervisors had already made such a finding when issuing the conditional use permit.
The plaintiffs also claim that when the conditional use permit was issued, the Highland County comprehensive plan was more than 5 years old, which exceeds the time frame when comprehensive plans must be reviewed according to state law.
And the plaintiffs state that the current comprehensive plan doesn’t contain any reference to wind energy production and that the plan recommends protecting the county’s unique viewshed, wildlife and environment.