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A lawsuit brought by a group of Linn County landowners regarding the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the Coggon Solar utility-scale energy project a year ago has been dismissed. County supervisor Ben Rogers shared the update with the board this morning during its regular weekly meeting. He also noted that the plaintiffs have 30 days to appeal the ruling, should they so choose. Online court records confirm the case has been dismissed. “I want to thank our civil division, Charlie Nichols, (and) our planning and zoning staff for the incredible, monumental work that went into creating an ordinance that so far has been successful,” Mr. Rogers said. “Certainly there is a process here to appeal, but I’m glad to have been successful.” The Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 Jan. 24, 2022 to approve the third and final reading of a rezoning request for the Coggon Solar utility-scale solar project, capping a long and often-contentious debate over the project – the first utility-scale solar project in the county’s history. Mr. Rogers chaired the board throughout the debate. The January 2022 vote provided the final official county approval needed for the $150 million, 750-acre Coggon Solar project to proceed. Officials from Boise, Idaho-based Clenera Energy, the company that will develop the 100-megawatt Coggon Solar project, had planned to begin construction of the project in the summer of 2022, but the project was put on hold pending the resolution of the lawsuit. The Coggon Solar project has faced two separate legal challenges in Linn County District Court. The plaintiffs in both cases were listed as Martin Robinson, Paula Robinson, Tom Robinson and Laura Robinson, who own property near the Coggon Solar project footprint. The case against the Linn County supervisors was filed Aug. 20, claiming that the board’s approval of the Coggon Solar project violated the county’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances “because the solar project is to be built on prime farmland.” In addition, the suit claims the application of an overlay zone for the project is “illegal zoning and taking of agricultural property” and comprises “spot zoning.” A separate case, naming the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) and Coggon Solar LLC, was filed June 22 and remains unresolved. The suit claimed that the Robinsons own drainage easements near the Coggon Solar property that would be impacted by the installation of steel pilings to support the project’s solar panel, and that CIPCO contractors “destroyed and removed” a section of drain tile owned by the Robinsons during a 2014 utility project, causing decreased crop yields “and other difficulties.” It seeks compensatory and punitive damages. CIPCO and Coggon Solar denied the claims in a response filed July 18. In part, their response indicates that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations, and that “if plaintiffs have been damaged, other causes have contributed to the same.” A trial date in that case has been set for Sept. 26, 2023. The county denied the claims in a Sept. 12 filing, indicating “there is zero evidence that the board acted in an unreasonable, capricious, or discriminatory manner in its careful deliberation of this rezoning.”