A standing room only crowd turned out Tuesday for a McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals wind farm hearing that will continue tonight and possibly Thursday.
The turnout at Heartland Community College included a group of about 16 families represented by Bloomington attorney Melissa McGrath. Her clients do not want wind turbines for the project built near their homes.
McGrath questioned the grounds on which Phil Dick, McLean County zoning director, recommended the board approve the application for the project by Invenergy Wind LLC.
McGrath said Dick has yet to hear all the information in the case.
Board Chairman Sally Rudolph assured McGrath the board is under no obligation to accept the director’s recommendation.
Kevin Smith, senior vice president of Invenergy, maintained wind energy is a proven alternative to pollution-producing forms of energy. Smith said its customers benefit from a competitively priced market.
A special-use permit for a proposed $250 million wind farm to span more than 12,000 acres of farmland in McLean and Woodford counties was the key issue at Tuesday’s hearing.
The meeting will resume at 6 p.m. today at the college.
The hearing, originally scheduled for Nov. 21, was postponed for 58 days because many residents claimed they were not given enough notice about the plan for the White Oak Wind Energy Center to research it and prepare their thoughts.
Invenergy Wind LLC, based in Chicago, has developed wind projects in more than 20 states, has proposed the wind farm, to be named the White Oak Wind Energy Center, that would place 100 General Electric wind turbines on land in the two counties. The project would produce enough energy to power about 40,000 homes.
While many focus on the benefits this could bring to the area, some have objected to such a massive project in their own backyards.
Some residents are concerned with the possible impact on property values as well as the area’s rustic beauty. Another setback is the possibly threat to migrating birds. Invenergy claims this threat is less significant than that of buildings, picture windows, cars, cats and pesticides.
Townships chosen for the wind energy center have electricity transmission lines, available farmland and high wind readings. The townships are Dry Grove, Hudson, Kansas, Montgomery, Normal and White Oak.
By Holly Richrath
of The Journal Star
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