The Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals gathered Tuesday night to hear closing arguments from lawyers arguing for and against the creation of a wind power plant near Delavan.
Members of the public were given five minutes each to weigh in on the topic as well.
Wind power advocates argued that wind turbines are an answer to the world’s energy needs, will bring tax revenue to rural school districts and among many other things, are a change rural citizens need to embrace.
“You know things change, things are gonna change,” said Delavan resident and pro-wind power speaker Greg Tarter.
A company called Horizon Wind Energy has ambitions to build a wind power plant with turbines situated in both Logan and Tazewell counties. Before the power plant is built, Horizon must get special permit approval from the ZBA.
Tuesday night’s meeting was one of several held after Delavan resident Luke Taylor objected to evidence presented in Horizon’s permit application.
Taylor’s attorney, Chris Spanos, argued Tuesday that wind turbines pose health and safety risks. He said wind turbines are inconsistent with an agricultural situation. “Is this consistent with what’s already there?” Spanos asked.
While recapping evidence presented during several days of testimony, Spanos pointed out that a few of Horizon’s projected noise levels are not in compliance with the Illinois Pollution Control Agency’s standards.
“Mr. Taylor has a right to keep those noise levels below, anywhere,” said Spanos, who is also representing seven land owners opposed to the erection of the turbines.
The attorney alleged that there are not enough wind power plants in existence from which accurate studies of property values can be taken. “I truly believe that this particular application violates the ordinance and shouldn’t be allowed because it violates the law, because it is illegal,” he said.
Attorney Frank Miles for Horizon apologized to the ZBA for getting them involved in an anti-wind debate. He began his closing argument by reminding the ZBA that the Tazewell County Board approved of wind power plants in Tazewell when they created an ordinance for the power generating structures.
Miles told the ZBA that they should have been presented with facts about wind power plants, rather than speculative anecdotal testimony from the public, testimony which threatened to “poison” the ZBA members opinion of Horizon.
“There is a network of anti-wind interests out there,” said Miles. He spoke of one citizen by name, using her as an example for people who oppose wind power plants in general.
As for the plant’s impact on agricultural land, Miles said the turbines’ presence would be minimal.
Miles criticized the opposition for giving “I-can-see the-future” testimony. He said that talk of what lies in wait for wind power plants is only speculation.
Miles offered sympathy to the clients represented by Spanos. As an owner of rural land in Woodford County, Miles himself has seen the landscape change over the years. Be it through industry, the bright lights of neighbors or radio towers, outside forces have prevented him from enjoying his land, he said.
However, “My property stops at my property line,” Miles said.
The ZBA will meet on June 4 to deliberate and decide whether to approve Horizon’s permit application.
By Nick Vogel
Times Staff Writer
28 May 2008
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