Sitting at his kitchen table, Joe Smeck recalls the neighborhood debates that took place there over a wind farm plan near his home.
His main beef was simple. “There were very few people who knew what was going on and then to get it dropped in our lap, that what got us upset,” Joe Smeck said.
Smeck and his neighbors sued Stephenson County and wind farm developer EcoEnergy for the way the project was approved.
But a court battle is now off the docket after a recent settlement.
“They have tried so far from what I’ve seen to work very hard with the disgreement that was there and try to smooth the waters,” Smeck said. “We’re excited about moving forward and knowing that there are some genuine good feelings out there with the concerned,”
Dave Vrtol of EcoEnergy. Vrtol is the project manager for this wind farm, which will span nearly 5-thousand acres near Lena.
They plan to build 42 wind turbines similar to these along interstate 39 in Paw Paw.
EcoEnergy is reducing the number of turbines by almost 30. And adding more buffer zones near houses.
Vrtol says there will be about a dozen new jobs at the wind farm. And hundreds more more leading up to its finish. “You have the construction phase which will encompass anywhere from 300 to 400 people. All local people,” Vrtol said.
If all goes well, we could see turbines like these complete by the end of next year.
Smeck says at this point neighbors just need to move forward and hope for the best.
“We have to accept it, shake hands and move on,” Smeck said.
He did say that there are still some hard feelings out there among some of his neighbors.
Ver-tel, with EcoEnergy, says he has an open door policy for anyone who with concerns with the wind farm.
Reporter: Max Seigle
28 December 2007
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