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Appeal needs to be filed soon

Walworth County Commissioners voted on Tuesday, Aug. 8, to file an appeal with the South Dakota Supreme Court regarding the decision by Judge Scott Myren of the Fifth Circuit Court concerning the special election on the wind turbine setback.

Walworth County State’s Attorney Jamie Hare said that appeal must be filed within 30 days of  Judge Myron’s decision. He said he has set a deadline of Sept. 1 for that filing.

“We will ask the court to rule whether the 5 percent (signatures of voters in the last election required to file a petition) is of active voters as to how the Secretary of State interpreted it, or 5 percent of all registered voters as Judge Myren interpreted it,” said Hare. “I think we would win that appeal.”

But he said the second issue, which concerns a petition that was misdated by a Notary Public is a different story. Hare said that is probably a losing appeal.

If the ruling was to be appealed, the county was the entity that had to file the appeal because the ruling involved a county employee. Walworth County Auditor Becky Krein validated the petitions without catching the misdated petition.

Myren’s ruling stopped a special election on the two-mile setback ordinance approved by the commission.  A group of landowners whose property lies within a section of land on which a proposed wind farm would be built had filed in Fifth Circuit Court based on several facts including the misdated petition and the interpretation of the required number of signatures needed to force a special election on the issue.

Myren sided with the landowners’ attorney that it referred to the number of registered voters at the time of the election, which made the number of signatures short of what was needed although Krein had received guidance from the Secretary of State’s office concerning the number of signatures needed on those petitions.

– Katie Zerr –