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Carlock wind farm hearing is Tuesday; McLean zoning panel weighs special use  

A public hearing will be Tuesday, and possibly continue Wednesday, for a proposed $250 million wind farm spread across 12,000 acres in McLean and Woodford counties.

At issue during the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing, which will be at 7 p.m. at the Heartland Community College Community Commons Building, is whether the county should approve special-use permits for the sprawling wind farm, White Oak Wind Center, being proposed by Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC. Action has been halted in Woodford County as officials wait to see what McLean County officials decide.

The project calls for 100 turbines that would produce enough energy to power about 40,000 homes. The majority of the turbines would be erected on farmland in rural McLean County near Carlock.

“We hoped to establish a meeting time where the company could present their case and the public could be better informed,” said Phil Dick, McLean County director of building and zoning.

Hearings last November were postponed to give residents who said they had only recently learned of the plans for the project more time to research those plans and prepare presentations in support of or against the project.

Attorney Melissa McGrath of Thomson and Weintraub in Bloomington represents 16 families living in each of the six townships involved.

At one of the November meetings, she argued that while Invenergy has been developing this project for three years, the residents had no more than a month’s notice about the county’s plans to vote on approving the project.

Kevin Smith, Invenergy’s senior vice president, maintained his company followed legal guidelines for notifying residents of the proposed wind farm.

Joel Link, senior development manager with Invenergy, hopes the company will be able to “fully present our case for the special-use permit” at the hearing. He brought experts to testify at the previously scheduled meeting and plans to bring them again.

McGrath wanted ample time to bring in her own team of experts to cross-examine Invenergy’s experts.

She first asked that the originally scheduled hearing be postponed for 90 days, but settled for a 58-day delay.

Some residents she represents were concerned about how close the turbines may be to their 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.

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

Other concerns voiced by residents include the possible impact on property values and on the area’s rustic beauty.

Others have been proponents of the project, hoping it would keep unwanted developments away from the area.

If the special-use permit is approved, the wind energy center will take advantage of the high wind readings in the townships of Dry Grove, Hudson, Kansas, Montgomery, Normal and White Oak.

By Holly Richrath
Of The Journal Star
686-3041 or state@pjstar.com

pjstar.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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