Any votes to move forward a contentious zoning issue involving a wind farm development in Woodford and McLean counties are postponed until early next year.
With a 14-0 vote Tuesday, the Woodford County Board opted to send a Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation allowing a special use permit for the development of up to 20 turbines near Carlock back to that board for a rehearing.
The move comes about two months after the county’s ZBA approved the permit amid criticism that they violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.
But whether Woodford County’s ZBA ever reconsiders the permit depends on action the McLean County Zoning Board might take on Jan. 15 or Jan. 16. The Woodford County meeting has been rescheduled for February.
A majority of turbines for the White Oak Wind Energy Center are slated to be placed on farmland in rural McLean County.
All told, 100 turbines are to be developed, producing enough energy to power about 40,000 homes.
Approving a special use permit for the development in both counties is required since the wind farm, a commercial business, would occur on land zoned for agriculture.
“The bottom line is if McLean County doesn’t approve it, we only have (12 to 20) turbines,” Woodford County Administrator Gregory Jackson said. “(Wind farm developers) Invenergy is not going to come for 12 turbines.”
Carlock residents Kevin and Robin Moore praised the county’s vote, saying it showed that there was a concern about the Woodford County ZBA meeting in October.
During that meeting, residents questioned why the board had an impromptu “recess” to discuss its recommendation on whether Invenergy of Chicago should receive the permit.
Illinois law prohibits public bodies from conducting a private meeting during an open session unless they voted to go into an executive session. No vote ever took place.
Shortly after that meeting, the ZBA approved the permit despite opposition from a majority of the people who attended that meeting.
“It was obvious to us that the zoning board made up their mind before the (meeting),” Kevin Moore said.
Kevin Moore, a Woodford County resident, said a large group opposing the project will next attend a Kansas Township Board meeting asking for that board to recommend the project be voted down. That meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10.
By John Sharp
Of the Journal Star
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