Would A Cass County Wind Farm Violate Landowners' Rights?

May 8, 2018

A judge will decide whether to throw out a lawsuit regarding a proposed Cass County wind farm this week. Two landowners claim a county wind ordinance would violate their property rights. 

Most local governments have what’s called a “setback distance.” It’s how far a wind turbine has to be from certain things like property lines and roads. In Cass County, it’s about the same distance as the height of the turbine.

But the county has an added requirement — no homes can be built within 1,000 feet of a turbine. That could impact some landowners who hope to eventually build homes on their properties.

Stephen Snyder is a lawyer representing them. He gave the example of a turbine that’s 660 feet tall:

“That would mean 340 feet of your property would not be usable by you for the construction of a residence,” says Snyder. 

Cass County commissioners, backed by the state attorney general’s office, say that landowners don't have a case. The wind company hasn’t decided where turbines will be placed yet. Snyder says it's not too early for this lawsuit.

“Should we wait until the turbine is constructed and then attempt to obtain the court’s interpretation of this ordinance?” he says. 

Cass County commissioners and the attorney general’s office could not be reached for comment.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.