PEKIN – Officials with a proposed wind farm won’t find out if the project is getting a green light from Tazewell County officials until June, and yet another hearing has been scheduled for community input.
In Logan County, where 29 wind turbines are targeted for construction, the project’s itinerary of public hearings and red tape is back to square one because of a legal snafu.
The Rail Splitter Wind Farm proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC needs the final approval of the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals, but the board has rescheduled its deliberations until possibly June 4 or June 5.
The board met Tuesday and had scheduled time for closing arguments from Horizon and its objectors, but cross examination of the project’s development manager, Bill Whitlock, went too long and the meeting was rescheduled.
On May 27, the board will hear five minutes of closing arguments from objectors, about 20 of them, and a half-hour each from Horizon and Rich Porter, a Rockford attorney representing the project’s opponents.
The board will then deliberate in June on whether Horizon will get permits for the project that would cover more than 11,000 acres of farmland straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155.
The towers would be 389 feet tall and the 67-tower project would bring 38 of them to Tazewell County.
Horizon withdrew its petition for a special use permit in Logan County after Porter filed motions to block the zoning board of appeals from holding public hearings on the request. Porter said some residents living in the vicinity of the proposed project were not given legally required notices about the petition and hearings into the matter.
The Logan appeals board heard arguments on Porter’s objection earlier this month at the start of a public hearing at Hartsburg-Emden High School, but decided in favor of Horizon and allowed the hearing to proceed.
Days after that session, Horizon withdrew its petition for the special use permit and said it would carefully research the legal notice issue before refiling the petition in June.
“They do intend to reapply (for conditional use permits),” Logan County Board chairman Dick Logan said Tuesday during a county board meeting.
Logan said Horizon Wind Energy is in the process of re-evaluating its methods to deal with the public in Logan County.
The wind farm will sell energy to AmerenCILCO and will power about 30,000 homes in Illinois.
The project would be the second central Illinois wind farm development for Horizon, which operates the Twin Groves wind farm just east of Bloomington.
By By Kevin Sampier
GateHouse News Service
21 May 2008
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