Friday, September 7, 2007

Former commissioner and architect of wind project now threatens law suit.

As a former county commissioner, Harold Kraus knows very well how to manipulate local government to his own ends. He now seeks to do so behind the scenes, assuming the rest of the community is either too stupid to notice, or too apathetic to care. It is up to every honest citizen of this community to see that he is put in his place.

How do you get a wind power project sited on your land without your neighbors being able to do anything about it? First, stack the zoning board with family members and supportive business associates so you can force zoning down the county's throat against a huge majority in opposition. Then, have these same zoning board members cut and paste together the most inadequate regulations ever seen in the history of zoning so that the county is wide open to wind energy development without any restrictions.

Now you are ready to solicit wind developers that might otherwise be wary of a project so close to residential housing. No problem, you say. With zoning in place, we can pull all the strings to recommend a Conditional Use Permit with only two weeks notice to anyone who might oppose it. The CUP will protect both the developer and the leaseholders from any legal liability arising from their project, no matter how hideous or environmentally destructive it turns out to be. Those who don't like it can effectively sue themselves. Slam dunk. Just like getting your step son and chair of the zoning board to ensure that your permit for a gravel pit is approved - regardless of how much of the required documentation is missing when it comes to a vote.

But Kraus seemingly underestimated the people of his community. He now realizes that they are not going to be intimidated or subservient to his sleazy, underhanded business tactics. Unable to bully his neighbors into submission, he now seeks to bully the County Commission itself and writes a letter threatening to sue the county for taking away his family's rights to do whatever they want with their land. I guess we should be thankful he doesn’t own a coal mine or it wouldn’t be only wind development we are fighting.

The bulk of Mr. Kraus' letter seeks to debunk any health effects of wind towers and place the burden of evidence on potential medical victims (remember Erin Brockovich?), while in truth the real legal burden falls on developers to prove no health hazards will result from their activities. However, the purpose of his letter appears to be a threat to demand compensation from the county for loss of his property rights if he isn’t allowed to have wind towers. Apart from being legally preposterous (you can't demand compensation for not being allowed to do something potentially hazardous to your community) it is hugely ironic. Perhaps if the process had been less devious and had offered some sort of compensation to his neighbors in the first place, the county wouldn’t now be facing law suits regardless of what decision is made on this project.

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