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Controversy remains in wind farm zoning tilt  

Cindy Lorimor and Rhonda Baer are “very disappointed” the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals is recommending a special-use permit for the proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center.

And, after the 12 days of hearings on the issue, Lorimor, Baer and other opponents of the 100-turbine wind farm are wondering how regular citizens can ever afford to fight something they’re against.

“My personal opinion is any time a case like this is in front of the zoning board, it’s an uphill battle for citizens to oppose,” said Baer.

Supporters of the project, on the other hand, believe the decision made late Thursday night was a good one.

“I’m very happy it went the way it did,” said Alice Ruegsegger, whose family farm will be the site of two turbines. “I think the board made the right decision.”

Kathy Judd, whose family farm also will be the site of turbines, agreed.

“Farmers will certainly benefit,” she said.

The issue is not over yet. The permit request by Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC still has to go before the County Board for a final vote.

Cheryl Rhodes hopes the County Board will read all the information presented at the hearings more thoroughly than she believes the zoning board did.

“They didn’t even read the closing statements,” she said.

Melissa McGrath, the attorney representing some of the opponents, and Raymond Roder, the attorney for Invenergy, each got 20 minutes for closing arguments but had additional testimony that was presented in written form.

“They (the board) chose not to read the closing arguments,” Rhodes said. “They chose to go until midnight. They chose not to sleep on it.”

Opponents also feel all the information they wanted to present was unfairly rejected by the zoning board.

“Even if we had documentation, we were required to have the author as well,” said Lorimor. “For us to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to fly in experts is nearly impossible.”

The board said that requirement allowed the other side to question witnesses.

But Baer said the zoning board accepted the company’s application as truth.

“If they can accept what the company has presented as truthful without validation, they should have given us the same courtesy,” she said.

The two sides do agree on one thing. The issue has split the community of Carlock.

Baer feels farmers who signed a contract for a turbine “hog tied the rest of the community.”

“If it’s a good thing, why wasn’t the entire community involved?” she asked.

But Ruegsegger said she had “no idea people would even care” what her family did on their own farm.

What’s next

Invenergy Wins LLC’s request for a special-use permit will go to the McLean County Board for a final vote.

County Board members are allowed to consider only testimony and information included in the records of the zoning board hearings.

The County Board will meet at 9 a.m. March 20 in Room 400 of the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington.

By Mary Ann Ford
mford@pantagraph.com

9 February 2007

pantagraph.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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