A judge said he will rule within 30 minutes before this morning’s McLean County Board meeting on a request to stop a vote on a permit for a proposed $250 million wind farm.
“A court of law should review this before it goes on to the County Board,” Bloomington attorney Melissa McGrath told Judge Charles Reynard on Monday in McLean County Circuit Court.
McGrath filed an emergency petition Friday to stop the County Board from voting today on a special-use permit for the Oak Wind Energy Center.
The project by Invenergy Wind LLC of Chicago would span 12,000 acres of farmland in Woodford and McLean counties and would include 100 General Electric turbines.
McGrath represents Information is Power, a not-for-profit group of residents in areas that would be affected by the wind farm.
“The petitioners are seeking court review of due process violations perpetrated by the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals at hearings,” McGrath said.
McGrath claims project opponents were given a five-minute time limit to state their case at a series of 13 hearings held by the ZBA. She said Invenergy did not have a time restriction.
McGrath also said Invenergy was allowed to present evidence based on hearsay, while opponents could not.
Because of these restrictions, McGrath said, her clients were unable to fully present their case.
On Feb. 8 the ZBA voted to recommend the County Board approve the special-use permit.
McGrath said she did not receive a copy of the ZBA’s decision until March 14. She maintains state law provides the public 35 days to appeal a decision by the ZBA. She said a vote by the county today falls short of the required 35 days.
Attorneys Brian Hug and Bill Wetzel, representing the ZBA and Invenergy respectively, asked Judge Charles Reynard to dismiss the emergency petition.
“There’s no emergency here to deal with,” Hug said.
Hug also said the ZBA’s decision is not final and the County Board may accept, reject, change or find additional facts to add to the recommendation.
Reynard was assigned to the case at about 3:30 p.m. Monday while hearing another case. He heard statements from each attorney but was unable to make a ruling in the case because of insufficient time. He said he will have a written order prepared by 8:30 this morning.
The County Board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today. At the meeting, the board is to vote on the special-use permit as well as a road agreement between the county and Invenergy.
By Holly Richrath
Of The Journal Star
20 March 2007
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