A hearing on the White Oaks Wind Energy Center was held over until tonight because so many people turned out Wednesday to offer their opinions.
After four hours of testimony and questions, Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Bob Harbers said the meeting would be continued until 6 p.m. today at the Congerville Elementary School.
About 65 people attended the hearing on Wednesday. Of 36 individuals registered to make comments, only about half had an opportunity to speak by 10 p.m.
The vast majority of speakers voiced concerns over a proposed 100-turbine wind farm’s effects on birds and wildlife, drainage, roads and property values.
Chicago-based Invenergy Wind is seeking approval to build on scattered sites near the McLean-Woodford county line. Construction on the project, which would cost more than $200 million, is slated for spring 2007
Sandy Adams of rural Carlock said the wind farm would be an eyesore that takes away from the area’s natural beauty.
“I believe that a huge wind farm in this area would change the quality of living for us, so I’m against it,” said Adams.
Rhonda Baer of Carlock agreed, adding that the proposed revenue for local taxing bodies wouldn’t offset the concerns of residents about the sight, sounds and impact of wind turbines.
“To me, $200,000 (in tax revenue) seems like a very small amount considering all the problems involved with putting this in,” said Baer. “It doesn’t seem like a lot of money for a lot of trouble.”
Bill Preller estimated that he would be able to see about 50 of the turbines from his home in rural Hudson.
Preller said the wind farm’s developer, Invenergy, has failed to meet the standards necessary to have a special-use permit approved. For example, road use agreements have not been reached with municipalities.
“We don’t know the gravel depths. We don’t know the road widths. We don’t know the weight of loads,” said Preller. “The numbers just aren’t there.”
Joel Link, Invenergy’s director of business development, addressed many of the concerns raised by residents.
He said road agreements are being negotiated, noise standards will be maintained and the company is willing to consider additional evidence about the effects on wildlife, including birds.
However, the appearance of the turbines was not an issue he would address.
“I never argue the aesthetic values of wind turbines. I understand the point of view that some don’t want to see them. I understand the idea that I don’t mind seeing them,” said Link.
“A lot of the comments I’ve heard tonight are about the aesthetic value.”
The only resident speaking in favor of the farm was a landowner who could potentially host a tower. Larry Crowe of Machesny Park drove 150 miles to say he welcomed a turbine on his family farm along U.S. 150. He plans to retire to the location in a few years, he said.
“I think you’re ignoring people like me who stand to gain from this and rightfully so,” said Crowe. “If I had a choice of having a subdivision next to me “¦ I’d choose the wind turbine.
By J.W. Shults
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