A group of landowners in Kingfisher County has filed a lawsuit against the city of Piedmont, claiming a city ordinance passed in August interferes with their rights to lease land for a proposed wind farm.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Piedmont to stop enforcement of the ordinance and class-action status for possible damages of more than $38 million.
Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy Inc. is developing the Kingfisher wind farm, a 300-megawatt project in northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County. The development doesn't come inside the city limits of Piedmont, but the city council passed an ordinance Aug. 26 declaring large wind turbines within three miles of the city a “public nuisance.”
The lawsuit said the ordinance harms at least five landowners in Kingfisher County and potentially many more within the three-mile radius set up by the city. The landowners have had leases with Apex or its partners for at least three years.
“Plaintiffs' valuable real property rights and valuable rights under said leases have been declared unlawful by defendant's ordinance and resolution,” said the lawsuit filed Friday in Kingfisher County.
State law allows cities to regulate public nuisances within their city limits. It also allows them to regulate projects outside city limits “for the protection of the public health, the public parks and the public water supply.”
The lawsuit said Piedmont's ordinance amounted to an illegal “taking” of private land and landowners were not afforded proper compensation under the rights of eminent domain. It also said the city has failed to prove wind turbines are a public nuisance.
Jim Crosby, Piedmont city manager, said he didn't know if attorneys for the city's litigation partner, a group of Piedmont property owners called the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association, would handle the lawsuit on behalf of the city. The city entered into a litigation agreement with the association last month for issues regarding the Kingfisher project.
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