September 21, 2006

Henry County zoning officials recommend wind farm

A 266-tower wind farm is one step closer to becoming a reality, but some Bishop Hill residents say the project will hurt their historical town.

The Henry County Zoning Board of Appeals voted Wednesday to recommend to the Henry County Board that wind energy company Invenergy, Inc. receive conditional use permits for the towers.

The company is one of three proposing to locate towers in the area but some residents in Bishop Hill, a historical Swedish settlement from the 1800s that features preserved buildings from that time, oppose the plan.

“Our natural resource is the pristine nature of the town,” said Bishop Hill resident Beth Magnuson, who said the 21st century technology will clash with the town’s theme.

Invenergy Spokesman Joel Link said the towers won’t be visible from the town and will actually help draw more visitors.

“It’s not our intention at all to work against their goals or traditions,” Link said.

The company has even named the project the Bishop Hill Wind Energy Center.

“We thought it would add some value to the town and promote it a little more,” Link said.

Bishop Hill Village President Neil Cooper said he fully supports the $530 million project.

“I think it’s going to get more tourism for us,” he said.

About 40 people attended the meeting Wednesday, including representatives from area school districts. The estimated $4 million in taxes generated from the towers each year will greatly benefit the districts, representative said.

“This is absolutely vital for our future,” said Galva School Board President Paul Walliker. “As far as I’m concerned, we can’t build these (towers) fast enough.”

The Henry County Board will have the final decision on whether or not the permits allowing the company to build the towers will be approved.

BY Kevin Sampier
of the Journal Star

Kevin Sampier can be reached at 686-3041 or

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