May 13, 2008

Livingston County hearing heeds public’s comments on wind farms

Public comment for or against a proposed 155-turbine wind farm in Livingston County continued at a Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Monday night.

Opponents argued the wind farm would endanger public health and the environment and damage property values. Those in favor of the development said it was a “win-win” situation because various taxing bodies would benefit from the property taxes, and they saw no problems with an existing wind farm in McLean County.

“I’ve been trying to keep informed on wind farms for three years … and the more I learn about this industry the more complicated it seems to get,” said Livingston County Board Member-elect Judy Campbell of Manville, who opposes the wind farm.

Iberdrola Renewables, which recently acquired wind farm developer PPM Energy, is seeking a permit to develop the 155-turbine Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm. It would use sites scattered across 15,000 acres east of Interstate 55 and between the communities of Odell and Emington.

Livingston County Board member Carolyn Gerwin, who said she was speaking as a private citizen, said she did not want to see anybody “thrown under the bus.” For example, she claimed wind turbines would hurt economic development and property owners’ rights because setbacks from turbines would limit where buildings could be built in the future.

“I believe that it is the responsibility of the Zoning Board of Appeals to protect the interest of the people of Livingston County, and that means all of the people of Livingston County,” she said.

Gerald Miller of Bloomington, who has family members who own property in the area, said they had mixed feelings about the project from the start and continue to have these mixed feelings.

“Our property will be completely surrounded by them, and we don’t live there now but plan to retire there,” he said. “We believe that the value of our residential property will be negatively impacted.”

Parker Bane of Pontiac said he grew up in Arrowsmith, and that community has had no adverse affects since the development of the nearby Twin Grove Wind Farm.

Michael Gall, 17, of Odell said he has visited the Twin Grove Wind Farm over a dozen times and saw how the county could be improved with the addition of the turbines.

“I plan to stay here and work in this county that I love,” he said. “This county is a part of me and I am a part of it. If you will not do this for your generation, then do it for mine.”

The hearing continues at 7 p.m. today at Pontiac Township High School. That will be the last day for collecting testimony on the proposal.

By Tony Sapochetti

Bloomington Pantagraph

13 May 2008

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