Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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FTW
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Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

Post by FTW »

This post will layout certain facts that MAY be grounds to file a lawsuit to STOP the Grandview Project from being built OR in the event that does not come to fruition, to compensate surrounding property owners for the anguish, stress, pain and suffering they have and will continue to experience during the existence of any local solar project they were prevented from voicing an informed opinion on.


We will be providing documented, audio or video proof of every statement of fact alleged in this post.

So, if you live in the Grandview Indiana area, Spencer County Indiana or any other small town that is or will be facing similar circumstances we invite you to read and even copy any allegations that may mirror your own situation.

We are starting with 12 pages, however that may increase or decrease as we advance this project.

They are:

1: Indiana State Code 36-7-4-604

2: Indiana Court of Appeals Record Confirming the Right to Reverse a BZA Approval of a Solar Project

3: Residents asking for their Legal Right to ATTEND and SPEAK at LEGAL Board Meetings that will have a major effect on the future of their homes and land.

4: Lack of Information on a Spencer County Plan Commission Contingent Use Permit.

5: Lack of perceived adequate notice regarding a Spencer County Council passing a Tax Abatement for a commercial operation, that effects residential homes.

6: Lack of perceived adequate notice regarding a Spencer County Council discussing land that would be re-assessed from Agricultural to commercial, right next to residential zoning.

7: Documentation Displaying information Sent to the Town of Grandview, for PUBLIC Viewing that was hidden from the public.

8: Copy of a Grandview Planning and Zoning Document, stating the fee for a "Special Exception" is $100, yet they accepted a check from the Solar Developer for $5,000.

9: Copy of a Certified Letter, letting property owners know they could SEE a copy of a proposed "Commercial Solar Application" before attending a board meeting.

10: Statements from property owners stating they were prevented from seeing the aforementioned Solar Application for at least a week to 10 days, then were given less then 15 minutes prior to a board meeting, to review them.

11: Witness statements confirming they were led to believe the Town of Grandview had the authority to pass an ordinance approving a solar project outside of the town limits and then taking over 3.5 years to publicly admit they did NOT have that legal authority.

12: Property Owners want to know why a commercial project can expand and change the boundaries of a project multiple times over the years and not have to get a NEW approval, notify local property owners of the changes and conduct work on the property without all of the legal permits or permissions required.
FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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1: Indiana State Code 36-7-4-604
1. According to the 2019 and 2020 Indiana Code 36-7-4-604 (2019) and 36-7-4-604 (2020)
• (a) Before the plan commission certifies a proposal to the legislative body, the plan commission must hold a public hearing under this section.
• (7) that oral comments concerning the proposal will be heard;
• (c) The plan commission shall also provide for due notice to interested parties at least ten (10) days before the date set for the hearing. The commission shall by rule determine who are interested parties, how notice is to be given to interested parties, and who is required to give that notice.
• However, if the subject matter of the proposal:
• (1) references a specific parcel of real estate;
• then all owners of real property to a depth of two (2) ownerships or one-eighth (1/8) of a mile into the adjacent county, whichever is less, are interested parties who must receive notice under this subsection.
We are posting the code from 2019 and 2020, since the Town of Grandview approved this solar project in 2019 and Spencer County approved it in 2020.

2019 Indiana Zoning Code:
2019 Indiana Code Zoning Ordinance.pdf
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2020 Indiana Zoning Code
2020 Indiana Code Zoning Ordinance.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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Indiana Court of Appeals Record Confirming the Right to Reverse a BZA Approval of a Solar Project

2. Below is a file of a court record where a judge STOPPED the building of a Solar Project AFTER it was approved by the local BZA, partially because, “ Specifically, the BZA’s approval of an incomplete application denied the Petitioners access to
information that would have allowed them to meaningfully participate in the public hearings.”



You can download a copy of it here.
Pulaski County Court of appeals2.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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Residents asking for their Legal Right to ATTEND and SPEAK at LEGAL Board Meetings that will have a major effect on the future of their homes and land.

3. All that we are asking, is for the local residents to be afforded their LEGAL right to attend and speak at an OPEN meeting in front of a committee or board that has the LEGAL right to approve or disapprove the zoning for the “Grandview Commercial Solar Power Plants” to be built on agricultural land near their homes.

• We believe we were deprived of that opportunity in the past and are willing to fight as long and hard as we need to, in order to protect our homes.
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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4: Lack of Information on a Spencer County Plan Commission Contingent Use Permit.

4. The Spencer County Plan Commission requires anyone applying for a Contingent Use Permit, furnish the Board of Zoning Appeals a list of adjoining property owners along with their last known addresses.

• We would like to know WHY a list of adjoining property owners is required if the county is not going to notify the adjoining property owners of an upcoming hearing.

• We would also like to know WHERE we can obtain a copy of the ORIGINAL “Application for a Contingent Use Permit” filed and submitted to the Spencer County Plan Commission for the September 24, 2020 meeting as well as any subsequent applications.

A copy of the Spencer County CONTINGENT USE PERMIT
Attachments
Spencer County Contingent Use Permit.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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Lack of perceived adequate notice regarding a Spencer County Council passing a Tax Abatement for a commercial operation, that effects residential homes.

5. On 8/27/19 Spencer County Council considered a request from Orion Renewable Resources to approve a preliminary resolution that allows for the eventual granting of a 10-year tax abatement.

• It was stated that Orion has assembled land-lease options on roughly 1.500 acres between the town of Grandview and County Road 500 N.

• It was also stated they would would be investing $75 million into the initial construction of a solar farm.

• Residents of Hammond Township were NOT made aware of this meeting unless they happened across a small notice in a weekly newspaper from around 30 miles away in another county.

Attached in an archived copy of a weekly newspaper from Dubois County, Indiana dated 8-27-19
It is available on the top row, middle column of page 9.
Spencer_County-Leader-8-27-19.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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6: Lack of perceived adequate notice regarding a Spencer County Council discussing land that would be re-assessed from Agricultural to commercial, right next to residential zoning.
6. On 9/17/19 Spencer County Council approved a ten-year personal property tax abatement for the Grandview Solar, LLC Project .

• During the 9/17/19 meeting, it was mentioned that the first step required for the Council to consider an abatement is adoption of a resolution declaring the project area an Economic Revitalization Area (ERA).

• The council prepared such a resolution to consider at the meeting, but a realization that approximately 75 acres of the proposed ERA lies within the Town of Grandview, added a wrinkle to the process.

• During that meeting, it was stated that once the project was in place, the land would be re-assessed from agricultural to commercial increasing the tax liability.

• It was also stated they would would be investing $50 million into the initial construction of a solar farm, instead of the initial $75 million that was mentioned in the previous meeting.

◦ Residents of Hammond Township were NOT made aware of this meeting unless they happened across a small notice in a weekly newspaper from around 30 miles away in another county.
Attached is a copy of an archived newspaper article from a weekly paper in Dubois County, IN dated 9-22-20. There is a story headline on page 8 relating to "addressing pay period for county employees" where in the third column from the left side of the page they begin discussing the Grandview Solar Project.
Spencer_County-Leader-9-22-20-8.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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7: Documentation Displaying information Sent to the Town of Grandview, for PUBLIC Viewing that was hidden from the public.
7. On 11/12/19 an Email and Overnight Delivery was sent from Mary E. Soldeda of Bingham, Greenebaum, Doll, LLC to Donna Burrows, with copies to John Wetherill, Esq, Keith Nix, Justin Wolf & Greg Ewing containing the following items:
• Application (with legal description of project land)
• Affidavit of Consent
• Proposed Finding of Fact
• Evidentiary submittal: North Carolina Clean Energy Center – Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics, May 2017
• Proposed Decommissioning Plan Agreement (will file later)
• Filing fee in the amount of $_____________ (please advise as to amount.)
• Preliminary Site Plan
• Draft Vegetation Management Plan
◦ This document is VERY important, because the contents listed in this document were HIDDEN from the public. See item #10 for more information.
Attached is a photo of this document.
Overnight-letter-to-grandview.jpg
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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8: Copy of a Grandview Planning and Zoning Document, stating the fee for a "Special Exception" is $100, yet they accepted a check from the Solar Developer for $5,000.

PG 35 of Grandview Land Use Planning and Zoning

According to page 35 of the Grandview Title 10 Land Use Planning and Zoning Documents, it states the fee for a “Special Exception or Variance” is $100, yet we have proof they received a check for %5,000 just weeks before they voted to approve this project.

Copy of page 35 of the Grandview Indiana Title 10 Land Use Planning and Zoning Document.
Grandvierw Use Planning and Zoning-pg35.pdf
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Copy of letter to Grandview Board relating to check for $5,000 payment.
5000_grandview_pmt.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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9: Copy of a Certified Letter, letting property owners know they could SEE a copy of a proposed "Commercial Solar Application" before attending a board meeting.

9. On 11/22/19 A Certified Letter was sent to Residents living adjacent to plots of agricultural land that were leased for use as Industrial Solar Power Plants in Hammond Township, north of Grandview.

◦ The Certified letters stated in the last paragraph, “ Interested Persons desiring to present their views on this proposed Special Exception, either in writing or verbally, WILL be given the opportunity to be heard at the above mentioned time and place.

◦ The letter was sent out by Bingham, Greenebaum Doll, LLP attorneys from Indianapolis, IN and signed by David K. Nix, Administrator of Town of Grandview Board of Zoning Appeals.

◦ The letter specifically states, “A copy of the proposed application is available for public review at the Town of Grandview Town Hall, Grandview, Indiana during the Regular business hours.”

◦ (See attached document titled, “Notice of Public Hearing, Board of Zoning Appeals, Town of Grandview, Indiana”)
Attached is a copy of one of those certified letters.
original-notice.pdf
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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Statements from property owners stating they were prevented from seeing the aforementioned Solar Application for at least a week to 10 days, then were given less then 15 minutes prior to a board meeting, to review them.
10. After receiving that notice, and prior to the December 12, 19 meeting, Ruthann Wike and/or her husband, personally went to the Grandview Town Hall at least THREE times on different days, to VIEW the aforementioned “proposed application” and were informed by Donna Burrows, the town clerk/treasure, (in front of witnesses) that no “proposed application” was available and the only thing they had was a map of the area displaying the parcels of land that were leased to the solar developer.

• During those visits the Wike’s took photographs of the map using their cell phones and discovered it displayed 33 parcels of land including 1 parcel within the town of Grandview and 32 parcels of land outside of town, going all the way up to county road 550N instead of county road 500 N as mentioned in the newspaper archives from the 8/27/19 Spencer County Meeting.


• We can provide a link to a website displaying a copy of the map mentioned above, that can be enlarged OR provide a digital image via e-mail upon request.
We are posting a link to the original map that was taken at the Grandview Town Hall. You can click on the image to enlarge it and then click on it a second time to make it even larger. Every place where you see a "Parcel Number" represents a piece of farm land that was supposed to contain solar panels instead of crops.

If you count the number of plots containing "white parcel numbers", you should find 33 parcels that were originally scheduled to be covered in solar panels. Only ONE Of them was inside the town.

That map also displays multiple "Flood Zones" plus there are multiple LARGE drainage ditches that feed into a local creek and then the Ohio River. It seems many solar developments seem to appear close to creeks, rivers and other sources of water, for some strange reason.

The map is located at: https://stopsola ... 84006F.jpg

If you want to download a copy of the map for your own use, we are posting a copy HERE that you can "SAVE AS" using the opposite button on your mouse.
full-map-grandview.jpg
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

Post by FTW »

Witness statements confirming they were led to believe the Town of Grandview had the authority to pass an ordinance approving a solar project outside of the town limits and then taking over 3.5 years to publicly admit they did NOT have that legal authority.
11. At the Grandview meeting, the residents that lived outside of the town were led to believe that Grandview had the legal authority to approve the building of a solar project next to their property, as long as they lived within a two mile radius of the town.

• It took THREE and a half YEARS before those residents were informed by the Grandview Town Board that mistakes were made and Grandview did NOT have the legal authority to approve the construction of solar projects outside of the town.

• Furthermore, it was at this Grandview Town Meeting in May 15, 2023 that Hammond Township residents were informed that Spencer County was the legal entity that approved the building of a solar project around our homes.

• During the 3.5 years between the initial vote taken by the Town of Grandview and the Grandview Town Meeting on 5/15/23, residents of Hammond Township, talked with Rob Shulte and Justin Wolf, of Orion Energy, as well as attended county council meetings, zoning board meetings, town hall type meetings that were held to get ideas for a solar ordinance and even filed FOIA requests, yet not one county official or Grandview official ever mentioned that Grandview did NOT have the legal authority to approve the solar project outside of the town and that the COUNTY was going to and did approve the measure without out knowledge.
While we do NOT have a written transcript, proving these statements, we do have multiple witnessed, PLUS we have an audio recording of one of the Grandview Town Board Members ADMITTING on May 15, 2023 to the fact that they did NOT have and still do not have the legal authority to control property outside of their town.

A link to a copy of that audio is posted at https://stopsolarfarms.org/pics/Spencer ... ouncil.m4a

And if you listen at the 36 minutes and 19 second mark, you will hear a female member of the Grandview Town Board admit they did NOT have a buffer zone in 2019 when they passed the Special Exemption for the Grandview (and Hammond Township) Solar Project.
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

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Property Owners want to know why a commercial project can expand and change the boundaries of a project multiple times over the years and not have to get a NEW approval, notify local property owners of the changes and conduct work on the property without all of the legal permits or permissions required.
12. During the 3.5+ years since Orion originally proposed the Grandview project, the borders have changed from ONE parcel inside the Grandview Town limits plus as other parcels as far north as County Road 500 N, to a total of 33 parcels going as far as County Road 550 N, to 19 parcels going as far north as County Road 600 N to 13 parcels going beyond County Road 650 N to the possibility of adding another 1,000 acres all the way up by AK Steel.

• How many times can a solar project change their boundaries without having to get new approval?

• Why is a solar developer allowed to start working on the land they leased, if they do NOT have a decommissioning plan in place?

• Has a road bond been paid, to make sure the damage to our county roads will be repaired after the construction vehicles tear them up?

• Is there any proof that a Rule 5 permit has been applied for and approved by the State of Indiana, since that is REQUIRED BEFORE any work on the land in excess of ONE ACRE is required?

• Why were the property owners living adjacent to the proposed solar projects notified by certified letters when a Town without the legal authority was having a meeting, but NOT when the county that did have the legal authority was holding meetings?

• Why were the taxpayers and voting citizens of Hammond Township not contacted or allowed to SPEAK at any Spencer County Meetings where this Grandview solar project was approved?
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

Post by FTW »

We have one person that is willing to contribute up to $20,000 for a legal fight, in order to get someone to STOP this Grandview Project, at least until a new hearing is held where EVERYONE close to any parcel of land within TWO owners of an effected parcel, has a chance to speak either for or against this project.

Then, if after hearing ALL of the pros and cons, if the board in charge still wants to allow this project to be built, for the next 30 years, and makes a fair and balanced LEGAL decision, that person will stand down and no longer attempt any legal fights.

If any other local residents would like to also contribute to a legal fund monitored by a reputable Banker, attorney or other entity, it would be quite welcome.
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

Post by FTW »

Three Newspaper archives were just located that Confirm the Town of Grandview Indiana was claiming they had jurisdiction over property within a two mile buffer zone, when they passed the zoning exception for the Grandview Solar Project.

So, while that happened in 2019, it was not until May 15th, 2023 when the town admitted they did NOT have the legal authority to pass that zoning ordinance for the properties outside of the town. And that admission is recorded in an audio capture that is posted in another reply to this post.

Here are the newspaper archives and the important comments are highlighted in RED.
SC Leader-12-17-2019-1a.pdf
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SC Leader-12-17-2019-2a.pdf
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SC Leader-12-24-2019a.pdf
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FTW
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Re: Proposed Lawsuit against Grandview and/or Spencer County?

Post by FTW »

Earlier, a comment was made about trying to find a copy of the Contingent Use Permit that was filed for the Grandview Project.

One of those has turned up in a Facebook group that is fighting against a 5,000 acre solar project here in Spencer County by the town of Richland, so we want to thank Mr. Kincaid for posting it where the public can see it. That is the power of citizens working together and sharing information to expose facts that others want to hide from us.

Here is that permit
Grandview Contingent Use Permit.jpg
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