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Wind farm hearing delayed

The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals and residents delayed a hearing Tuesday night on a proposed $250 million wind farm.

A Heartland Community College room was packed as some residents requested a 90-day delay in the hearing. They said they did not have enough notice of the project details to prepare their cases.

The board agreed to a 58-day delay. The hearing will resume Jan. 15 and 16 at Heartland Community College.

Grant Basting of Carlock said, “This is about civil courtesy and common respect to your neighbors … to every response pro there is a response con.”

Kevin Smith, senior vice president on Invenergy Wind Energy LLC of Chicago, said the company followed county guidelines about notifications.

Invenergy has applied for a special-use permit to build the White Oak Wind Energy Center, spanning 12,000 acres of farmland in Woodford and McLean counties. Plans call for 100 General Electric wind turbines. Combined, they would produce 150 megawatts of power, enough to power approximately 40,000 homes.

Towers in McLean County must be at least 1,500 feet from a residence, while a distance of 750 feet will be required in Woodford County.

Carlock residents are hoping for a requirement of 1 1/2 miles.

Joel Link, senior development manager with Invenergy, hopes to find a compromise, saying such a strict requirement would eliminate space for around 20 turbines.

Landowners affected by this project would divide the $500,000 in tax revenues annually.

Some residents have worried about the project’s impact on property values and the area’s rustic beauty. Others have been enthusiastic supporters of the project and said it would keep unwanted developments at bay.

The local chapter of the National Audubon Society recently withdrew its opposition to the project. The society has been concerned about the impact of wind turbines on migratory birds.

The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals voted last month to recommend that the Woodford County Board approve the project. Before this vote, however, the ZBA met privately, which could be considered illegal since there was not a motion to indicate an executive meeting as required by the Open Meetings Act in Illinois.

By Holly Richrath of the Journal Star
686-3041 or state@pjstar.com