White Oak Township officials have sent a letter expressing no objections to the proposed wind farm in their area, but some residents say they had no say on it because a public meeting was rescheduled with little notice.
Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC has proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center, a $250 million, 100-turbine wind farm on 12,000 acres of farmland in McLean and Woodford counties. The project goes to the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.
The township board met Monday and heard and approved a letter Township Supervisor Cynthia Cook sent to the county zoning board, saying the township had no grounds to object to the project.
The problem, some people say, is that meeting was supposed to be Wednesday.
Board members said the meeting was rescheduled over the weekend because of a last-minute schedule conflict. Opponents were suspicious, however.
“The issue has made people become contentious and attacks are getting personal,” said Denise Preller, a Normal Township resident who said 10 turbines are expected to be built near her rural home. “In this environment, when the meeting is canceled as suddenly as this and without much notice, it looks suspicious, like the board changed it so they wouldn’t have to face as many people.”
Township Clerk Michele Lemek said the meeting was rescheduled over the weekend because she and Cook realized later they had schedule conflicts.
“I guess some people are angry because they didn’t know about change so they didn’t get to hear Supervisor Cook’s letter to the McLean County Board,” said Lemek. “As soon as we realized we needed to change the meeting, we posted the change within 48 hours, so we did all that we were legally obligated to do.
“Anyone who was interested in coming could have checked at the Township Hall,” Lemek said.
No notice of the meeting change was sent to the news media.
Ron Uhe of rural Carlock said he received a call around 5:30 p.m. Monday about the meeting only because someone spotted the sign and started calling others to alert them of the change. He said more people would have attended if they knew about it.
“A majority of the people attending the December meeting opposed the wind farm and said they wanted the board to send a letter sent to the McLean County Board stating the township’s position,” said Uhe. “The board said they weren’t going to comment at that time, but would have the letter at Wednesday’s meeting.”
Uhe said the letter didn’t represent the level of opposition in the community.
“We were looking for them to represent our community, but I feel like they represented themselves,” he said.
Trustee David Schwartz said the letter addressed landowner concerns, including safety, road conditions and esthetics. The board approved the letter, he said.
“We have nothing to do with zoning,” said Lemek. “We can’t pass or reject the project. Our interest is the roads and making sure the McLean County Board is aware of our electors’ (residents’) concerns.”
The Carlock Village Board recently approved an ordinance preventing the development from building within 1.5 miles of the village limits.
Tuesday’s hearing will be at 7 p.m. at the Heartland Community College Community Commons Building, 1500 W. Raab Road, Normal.
By Dave Tompkins
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