Kansas group considering building new wind farm
The Putnam County Board cleared the way Monday for a Kansas wind energy developer to take the first step toward possible development of another wind farm in north-central Illinois.
The board granted a special use permit allowing Trade Wind Energy to construct a meteorological tower south of Granville in order to get more data for the potential installation of 80 to 100 wind turbines in Putnam and LaSalle counties for a project to be called River Bend Farms.
Officials of the company, which is based in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, held an introductory meeting last month to outline the project and the general terms under which participating landowners could be compensated under a 40-year lease. Development would take two or three years, officials have said.
“We’re making sure there are enough landowners” who want to participate, and the early indications are there is great interest, company lease specialist Harvey Paul said after Monday’s board meeting.
But there could be a previously unanticipated snag because of an “agricultural district” formed in the 1980s, county zoning enforcement officer Jim Burger told the board Monday. The creation of such areas is authorized by state law as a way to keep farmland in agricultural use and protect it from other development pressures.
“No land within an agricultural area shall be used for other than agricultural production,” the statute states.
In Putnam County, the existing ag district extensively overlaps the area proposed for wind turbine locations, Burger said. The project would extend in a southeasterly direction from Mark to rural LaSalle County east of Interstate 80.
State law allows landowners to withdraw property from ag districts upon approval of the County Board. But the district’s existence could make development of the wind farm more complicated, Burger said.
“That may muddy some of the waters,” he said.
Paul, who was the only company representative at Monday’s meeting, asked Burger to forward the information to the firm’s headquarters so officials there could determine whether it would affect the viability of the project.
“It’s better to know sooner rather than later,” Paul said.
By Gary L. Smith
12 February 2008
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