PEKIN – Before it can harness the wind, Tazewell County plans to tweak the rules that regulate the tall towers that come with having a wind farm.
The county’s land use committee, which met Tuesday, voted to recommend to the full County Board that a previous height restriction for wind towers be removed.
Its recommendation suggests replacing a 300-foot height limit for wind towers with whatever guidelines are in place by the Federal Aviation Administration, said Kristal Deininger, the county’s community development administrator.
The committee also has recommended changing the fee structure that would be applied to each tower.
Currently, the county would charge $2,000 per tower, she said. But the County Board will vote on a recommendation that changes the fee structure to $20 per foot from the foundation of the tower to its hub.
These steps are in anticipation of a proposed $120 million wind farm project by Houston-based renewable energy company Horizon Wind Energy.
The project would be Tazewell County’s first commercial wind farm and would cover more than 11,000 acres of farm land straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155.
Deininger said the county needs to take these steps to get the rules in place before the project moves forward.
Committee members also discussed the possibility of changing the way wind farms and wind towers would be regulated and approved in the county.
Currently, the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals would approve or deny special use permits for the towers.
Some County Board members say projects with such a large potential impact should come before the full board and be decided by the board, while others say that defeats the system that was specifically created to make the process less congested.
“I think the County Board would like to have a say, but you’re opening up a Pandora’s Box,” said David Zimmerman, who serves on the committee and full board.
The County Board will address the wind farm issues during its meeting Feb. 27.
By Kevin Sampier
13 February 2008
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