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October 24, 2014

Cleburne County Residents near proposed wind mill farm sue developers

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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 4:01 pm | Updated: 1:53 am, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

HEFLIN — Residents lobbying against a proposed wind turbine project on Turkey Heaven Mountain in Cleburne County have filed a lawsuit asking for a permanent halt to the project.

The lawsuit was filed June 2 by neighbors of the properties being explored as possible sites for wind turbines. The lawsuit names Nations Energy Solutions, a company doing wind testing on the mountain, and other companies that may be involved in the project, including Wind Capital Group, as well as property owners who may be asked to rent their land for turbine sites, including Fred and Carol Kitchens and Scottie, Johnny and Cheryl Cofield, Carolyn Casey and James R. Johnson.

Fred Kitchens, Carolyn Casey and Johnny Cofield declined to comment on the lawsuit. Attempts to reach Robin Saiz, developer for Nations Energy Solutions, this week were unsuccessful.

Headwaters Investments Corporation, another property owner on the mountain, was dismissed from the lawsuit on June 12 at the plaintiffs’ request.

The lawsuit states that the project “will destroy some of Cleburne County’s most scenic areas,” as well as diminish area property values, and cause irreparable harm to the adjoining landowners due to flashing blades, low frequency noise, wind turbine syndrome and space and motion discomfort.

Attorney Chad Hopper, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said he is also working on a similar lawsuit in Cherokee County against Pioneer Green Energy, a company looking to put up wind turbines in that area.

The lawsuits are anticipatory in that the plaintiffs anticipate the wind turbines are going to be a nuisance, Hooper said.

The anticipatory lawsuits are rare, he said. Most nuisance lawsuits are filed after something is built. However, he thinks the lawsuits will help get the word out about damage the wind turbines can do to a locality and possibly stop the projects from moving forward.

During discovery, he found that the wind turbines in Cherokee County were going to be some of the largest in the nation, Hopper said. He believes that’s because the companies are having to stretch them further into the sky in order to make the wind turbines work at all. Alabama just doesn’t have the wind the turbines require, Hopper said.

“I think there is a reason Alabama doesn’t have any windmills and hasn’t had any windmills,” Hopper said. “It’s just not gonna work.”

In addition, he believes the high turbines will magnify negative effects of the turbines such as the noise and flashing turbine blades, Hopper said.

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