Navitas Energy of Minneapolis, Minn., has received permission to put two towers in the El Paso area to study the site of its proposed wind farm.
The Woodford County Board voted Tuesday night to approve two special-use permits for 197-foot meteorological towers near El Paso.
One will be on property owned by Charles Turk at 1052 County Road 2425 East, and the second on land owned by Milton Jochums, a quarter mile southeast of county roads 2200 North and 3000 East.
The Woodford County Zoning Board recommended the approval. The permits were quietly approved in a consent agenda of resolutions, but that followed attempts by a resident to speak against proposed wind turbine projects in the county.
The board has refused to allow wind tower opponents to address the last few board meetings, citing case law that says it is illegal to take additional testimony once an issue has been decided by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The ZBA voted in August to recommend a Navitas plan to put 40 electricity-generating turbines near El Paso, but the El Paso City Council has opposed any wind farm development within 1.5 miles of the city limits.
Kevin Moore of Kansas Township complained that Zoning Administrator John Hamann and County Administrator Greg Jackson have been lobbying school superintendents to contact County Board members in support of wind farm projects.
“They’re doing something on behalf of the wind companies that I’m being prohibited from doing,” Moore said.
County Board Member Gary Jones of East Peoria later said he is frustrated by the way the board handles public input and plans to bring it before his central services committee.
“The whole thing for me is a frustrating, gut-wrenching experience with no results,” he said.
Jones said he also had heard reports of county employees being harassed and threatened, which he said he will not tolerate.
“I’m all for dissent, but not to the point of threatening bodily harm,” he said.
The wind tower issue surfaced again under unfinished business when board member Larry Whitaker of Eureka made a motion for the board to approve the special-use permit Navitas wind sought for the 40-tower project itself. That permit is separate from the ones approved that night for the meteorological towers.
His motion was seconded, but board President John Krug of El Paso ruled it out of order because it was not on the agenda.
Krug asked State’s Attorney Michael Stroh to research whether the board can vote on the special-use permit before all the stipulations of the ZBA had been met.
“I will keep us from being sued,” Krug said.
By Jerry McDowell
15 April 2008
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