There is an ill wind blowing through the farm fields of central Illinois this harvest season, and it has nothing to do with the typical bad-weather woes discussed by many farmers.
At least three multimillion-dollar wind farm projects are in jeopardy if various government squabbles with their developers are not resolved.
The latest comes in Woodford and McLean counties after the village of Carlock recently submitted formal protests to both counties’ zoning offices against a $200 million, 100-turbine project north of the village limits.
Carlock village officials claim the construction of turbines within a 1 1/2-mile radius of village limits could hamper future growth, pose traffic and safety concerns throughout the village and hurt property values.
Mayor Bradley Baer said while Carlock officials “do not have control” over what is developed within 1 1/2 miles of their village limits, they do have input.
“It will basically shut the town down,” Baer said. “We will have no room for expansion.”
A similar dispute has evolved in Livingston County, where Chatsworth village officials agreed on an ordinance banning turbines from being constructed within 1 1/2 miles of the village, although no formal protests have been filed there.
Invenergy Wind LLC, developer of the White Oak Wind Energy project, is negotiating with Carlock officials.
Joel Link, spokesman for Chicago-based Invenergy, said avoiding Carlock’s 1 1/2-mile limit would “wipe out the northwest portion of the project,” meaning that no turbines would be constructed in Woodford County.
“In the end, I’m hoping to work on a compromise with them,” Link said.
To the north of Carlock in the Roanoke and Benson area, a dispute continues over a road agreement that many claim could halt the development of a $260 million, 79-turbine wind farm.
On Monday, more than 30 people crowded into the Greene Township building to voice their concerns to the Township Board and attorney Sheryl Kuzma, who is negotiating a road plan with Navitas Energy, a Minneapolis-based company in charge of constructing the facility.
“The clock is ticking, the door is closing,” Woodford County Zoning Administrator Gregory Jackson said. “Hopefully, before this valuable economic development goes away in the wind, the townships will be able to come to some sort of agreement with Navitas.”
Kuzma said Tuesday there were no new developments with that agreement, but talks continue.
The Woodford County Board meets Tuesday to decide whether to approve a special-use permit to build the wind farm northeast of Benson and Roanoke. Even if the board approves it, the project might not go forward.
“The county has no jurisdiction over the township roads,” Kuzma said.
Alan Haas, a farmer and property owner in rural Roanoke, said he hopes the Navitas project is not blocked by the townships – Greene, Panola and Clayton. If so, he thinks it will hurt local school districts that anticipate more revenue if the project is constructed.
“If it fails because of actual greed or because of some other reason not associated with the business aspect of this project, I will be real disappointed,” Haas said.
By John Sharp of the Journal Star
John Sharp can be reached at 686-3234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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