Supporters of a multimillion-dollar wind farm are pleased over what could be the end of a road agreement deadlock between three Woodford County townships and the project’s developers.
While details of the agreement were not released Thursday, attorney Sheryl Kuzma – who represents Panola, Greene and Clayton townships – said a meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday to act on the agreement.
The meeting will be held at the Panola Township Hall building at 720 20th St., Panola.
“I anticipate favorable action will be taken,” Kuzma said.
Approving a road agreement is considered the final major hurdle for Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy to overcome in its quest to develop an approximately $260-million facility in northeast Woodford County, near Benson and Roanoke.
When completed, the wind farm will feature turbines that stand nearly 400 feet high, considerably taller than Peoria’s 29-story Twin Towers.
The Woodford County Board meets Tuesday and is expected to approve a special use permit allowing the wind farm to be developed. A similar vote passed unanimously through the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
News that a road agreement had been reached pleased those who supported the project on the basis that it could generate thousands of dollars in extra revenue for surrounding government bodies, including schools and the county.
“This is a positive development and a positive first step down the county’s road for economic development,” County Administrator Gregory Jackson said.
Navitas project developer Wanda Davies said she was unaware that the townships were prepared to approve the agreement, but acknowledged several areas which were contentious between them and the government bodies.
Davies said problems existed on a two-year maintenance clause and liability issues if something were to go wrong with the development.
“Their last proposal had full (legal liability) by us for them,” Davies said. “We would have to take complete liability for mishaps.”
On Monday, Kuzma told more than 30 people who crowded into the Greene Township building that mere “tweaking” was required to get the agreement approved.
At the time, county and school officials fretted over the project possibly being in jeopardy if the road agreement was not reached soon.
“There was more than tweaking,” Davies said, noting that the liability issues were “potentially a big issue” with the company. “You don’t know what kind of lawsuits will come down the road and there could be a lot of money involved.”
She added, “If they are willing to accept that responsibility on a written directive, then we have come to an agreement on which we can both live with.”
The townships had wanted the road agreement in order to protect their interests in repairing rural roads, which will be stressed by heavy loads when trucks arrive hauling equipment needed to build the wind farm.
By John Sharp
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