EUREKA – An overflow crowd that violated the meeting room’s fire-code occupancy limit kept the Woodford County Board on Tuesday from considering the El Paso wind farm project.
The meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but the room’s 128-person capacity was met shortly after 6 and Sheriff Jim Pierceall began stopping people at the door. As many as 40 people were denied entrance.
Many, but not all, wore buttons opposing the proposed 40-turbine development by Minneapolis-based Navitas that has been stalled for lack of a road maintenance agreement between township road commissioners and the company.
At 6:30, people were crowding the entrance and peeking through other windows as State’s Attorney Michael Stroh conferred with Board Chairman John Krug and other board members.
After about 25 minutes, Krug called the meeting to order, and then asked Stroh to address the crowd. Stroh said they had been seeking a larger venue to move the meeting to but were unsuccessful.
To meet the requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, he advised the board to recess until 6:30 p.m. May 29 at a location to be announced.
Attorney Roger Holzgrafe told Stroh his clients were facing a two-day deadline to purchase a building for a Metamora day-care center, and he asked if the board could act on their special-use permit before recessing the wind farm issue. His request was denied.
A member of the audience asked if there could be changes to the agenda for the May 29 meeting. Stroh said he didn’t anticipate any.
The board agenda was changed at least three times after it was distributed Friday afternoon.
Three board committees earlier voted to put the issue on the agenda in some form, which has been opposed by Krug, citing a recommendation from the Zoning Board of Appeals that required an agreement with the road commissioners before board action.
Krug removed the issue from Friday’s agenda, which led board member Gary Jones to put it back on, saying Krug had overstepped his authority. Krug then removed it again, and a third amended agenda was posted and e-mailed to the media.
In another development in the escalating lobbying efforts, Navitas recently released a survey that it said showed 78 percent of county residents favor a proposal to build wind turbines, while just 10 percent oppose it.
The survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, asked questions of 304 residents Feb. 28 to March 4. It has a margin of error of 5.7 percent, Greenberg said, and included an over-sample of an additional 100 residents of either El Paso or Palestine townships.
By Jerry McDowell
20 May 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding