The fate of a contentious wind farm proposal is now in the hands of the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals.
A final public hearing was held Tuesday night on the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC, and residents on both sides of the issue made their feelings known in a last-ditch effort to sway the board’s opinion.
“I get very emotional about this,” Delavan resident Kevin Sands told board members during the closing statement portion of the meeting. “Please think hard before you tear up my township.”
Sands was one of many objectors who have spoken out against the wind farm, which would cover more than 11,000 acres of farmland straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155.
The towers each would be 389 feet tall. Thirty-eight of the 67 planned towers would be in Tazewell County.
Opponents have said the towers will decrease property values, create hazards for crop dusters and ruin the landscape.
Supporters say the towers will bring in needed property taxes for the rural area and create a clean source of energy.
“The pluses far outweigh the minuses in this case,” said Emden resident Kent Cross. “Our opportunity is here and now, and it’s the Rail Splitter Wind Farm.”
The board will begin deliberating June 4 on whether or not it will grant special-use permits to Horizon to allow for the farm’s construction. If granted, 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.
“This shouldn’t have been a contest of who can insult the other witness more,” Horizon attorney Frank Miles said, referring to expert testimony given during the multiple hearings that have been held since April 1. Most hearings have lasted three to four hours.
Miles said the project should be granted approval because Horizon has met all the rules set forth by the county.
Chris Spanos, an attorney who represents several objectors, said the project is not in compliance with noise standards, and some residents will be unfairly affected by the project.
“These people are talking from their hearts,” Spanos said.
By Kevin Sampier
of the Journal Star
27 May 2008
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