The future of the Oliver’s Crossing subdivision, a 900-acre project located a couple miles south of Chatsworth, is unclear following the announcement of a proposed wind farm near the development.
Pleasant Ridge is the latest energy project from Chicago-based Invenergy and would involve more than 100 turbines on farmland bordering Forrest and Chatsworth.
“We’re obviously concerned,” said Ken Kurtenbach, Oliver’s Crossing developer. “We don’t know what kind of impact it will have on us, but we’re at a critical stage in the development and it could have a negative impact. I think it would be similar to going to a bank and telling them you’re building a $500,000 house (and), oh and by the way, I’m building across from a landfill. Flags will go up.”
Kurtenbach and his family have been working on the development, which was recently annexed to the town, for the past two years and will begin construction on a 200-acre lake. Once completed, the subdivision will have more than 600 lots with homes valued from $300,000 to $400,000.
Invenergy is considering building wind farms in both the Roanoke-Benson area and Carlock, and has met some resistance from residents who are concerned about 500-foot towers disrupting the landscape. Kurtenbach and his family have farmed the ground they are developing, so his concerns also are directed at land use and the wind farm’s potential environmental impact.
“Wind farms are a real problem for farming, especially when you consider how much it limits aerial spraying,” said Kurtenbach. “It takes planes as much as a mile and a half to be able to turn, and that’s going to be very difficult when you have a 500-foot tower in your way.”
Invenergy representatives Karl Dahlstrom and Joel Link announced the project at a town meeting recently.
“Impacts to the environment are not as substantial as coal, and wind farms provide stability to energy prices,” said Link. “It’s a good, renewable source of energy and I predict tremendous growth in (wind farm development) the next 10 years.”
Dahlstrom said Invenergy has approached landowners over the past two months to secure 25-year leases and suggest where the turbines should be built. Dahlstrom estimates Invenergy will spend $2 million per turbine and plans to phase the turbines in over 25 years.
Link said energy generated from the wind farm will be available to residents throughout Central Illinois as well as the Chicagoland area.
“I’m divided,” said councilman Steve Maxson. “I’m an ecological person and believe wind energy is the way to go. It’s more expensive than coal and atomic energy, but it doesn’t pollute the air and there’s no nuclear time bomb. Still, the subdivision will bring tax dollars to the town and the wind farm won’t. It will bring money to the township, but they (Invenergy) aren’t obligated to give anything to the town. The subdivision will benefit the school, the town, everybody.”
Maxson said the town council recently enacted an ordinance limiting the wind farm development to within 1.5 miles of town. Many towns are establishing similar ordinances to allow for future growth, but the move has also caused problems for wind farm development. Invenergy selected the area because it is higher than the surrounding area and has consistent high wind speeds.
The wind farm will be further discussed at a special town meeting Nov. 7 at the American Legion hall. Invenergy representatives will discuss the proposal further and answer questions.
Oliver’s Crossing is named for Kurtenbach’s great-great-great-grandfather Franklin Oliver, the first European settler in the area, who arrived in 1835 and eventually owned 6,000 acres.
By Dave Tompkins
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