(DHI Media/File Photo)
(DHI Media/File Photo)

PAULDING – A new judge has been assigned to a pending lawsuit that could have statewide implications on windfarm setbacks.

The Supreme Court of Ohio assigned The Honorable Reginald J. Routson, a judge of the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas, to hear a lawsuit filed last fall by several Paulding County landowners challenging the state’s mandated windfarm setbacks. Paulding County Common Pleas Judge Tiffany Beckman disqualified herself from proceedings, according to a journal entry filed March 25.

On Nov. 13, county landowners Barbara Jean Morris of Paulding, Ronnie and Victoria Kadesch of Paulding and Richard King of Payne and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition filed a lawsuit against the State of Ohio. These plaintiffs allege the Ohio General Assembly violated the state constitution when it passed a dramatic increase in wind setback mandates.

The suit, filed in Paulding County Common Pleas Court, seeks a declaratory judgment that House Bill 483 Wind Turbine Setback provisions are unconstitutional as they were passed in violation of the single-subject rule contained in the Ohio Constitution.

It also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing HB 483 setback provisions.

Since the suit was initially filed, 48 residents of Seneca County filed a motion to intervene [entering a lawsuit already in progress]. These individuals and couples reside in the footprint of or near proposed wind turbine projects in that county.

Judge Routson has issued a decision granting the Seneca residents’ motion to become parties in the case.

The State of Ohio has motioned for the court to dismiss the suit.

If the court does not overrule the State’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs are asking the court to convert the State’s motion to a motion for summary judgment.

To date, no hearings have been held and no hearing dates have been scheduled.