The Union Township zoning board unanimously voted Tuesday to make a recommendation to the trustees rejecting a proposed wind turbine zoning resolution.
Executive Director Jenny Snapp of the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission – LUC – called the proposal “too restrictive” in height and setback requirements. Champaign County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio said it gave unauthorized power to governing bodies not listed in state law.
The proposal, submitted to the township zoning board by Union Township residents, regulates wind towers to a minimum of 2,600 feet from a building and property line. Plus, it restricts the turbine height up to 360 feet.
Everpower Renewables, a New York-based wind developer, has proposed building several 500-foot turbines throughout Union, Wayne and Salem townships. The county building regulations department recently approved the company to put up a test tower.
The LUC and prosecutor’s office both said their recommendations are not for or against wind turbines but reflect legal issues in the township zoning laws.
“The golden rule of all zoning is it has to protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents,” Selvaggio said.
The Union Township zoning board will notify the trustees of the recommendation, and the trustees will have a public hearing in 30 days. After the hearing, the township trustees will vote to accept or deny the board’s recommendation.
The zoning board will not act on the issue until after the trustees make a decision, board member Steve Bricher said.
More than 50 people were present for the meeting, and each side was allowed three representatives to speak.
The board should recommend forming a committee to investigate both sides of the wind turbine issue that will create a compromise on zoning resolutions, Union Township resident Julie Johnson said.
In other news, a Chicago-based wind energy developer addressed the zoning board at the meeting.
For several months, Invenergy has evaluated the wind potential in Champaign County for wind farms, Development Manager Jay Schoenberger said.
The company recently applied to place a test tower in the same interest area as Everpower and are awaiting response, he said.
“The Union Township officials are taking a measured approach to setting up an ordinance and making sure safeguards are in place,” Schoenberger said.
By LaToya Thompson
22 May 2007
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