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Residents will await wind farm decision; Opponents appreciated chance to voice concerns over El Paso project  

Opponents of the El Paso wind farm project must now wait and see what action the Woodford County Board will take in July when it is next scheduled to discuss the controversial development.

But some people opposing the wind farm said they were pleased with the opportunity to vent their grievances with the project and the recent actions of the board.

Late Thursday, the board voted to postpone a vote on the special use permit for the El Paso wind farm project.

Although initially upset over the board’s vote to use an agenda that included the 40-turbine wind farm, El Paso resident Jay Etcheson took solace knowing his viewpoint was heard.

“Generally everyone was pretty happy about the message that we were able to get out,” he said Friday about the show of force, adding the project’s future still appeared uncertain.

In the past, Chairman John Krug barred people from speaking on the wind farm for fear of litigation and having to start the entire ZBA process over again because the project had gone through the county’s zoning process and not yet formally come before the board. That restriction was loosened Thursday.

El Paso Mayor Herb Arbuckle said the meeting led him to lose confidence in the board. He said he feels he must monitor its actions and those of its committees.

“I plan on making every meeting I can possibly make,” he said.

Arbuckle doesn’t expect the board to categorically deny the project but said he wants the development and its impact to be seriously weighed and evaluated, something he briefly saw take place at Thursday’s marathon meeting.

On the other side of the fence, officials with the wind farm were also satisfied the board is taking up the issue. Paul Lewis, local attorney for Navitas Energy Inc. said the company plans on moving forward before the next meeting on negotiations with three effected township road commissioners.

“Across the next 60 days we will do our best to find a way to reach a resolution if a resolution can be reached,” said Lewis, though adding attempts to contact the commissioners or their lawyer have been unsuccessful.

Robert Lenz, the Bloomington-based attorney for the road commissioners, did not return calls Friday seeking comment.

In other news from the meeting, the board:

– Unanimously passed a resolution condemning the proposed closing of the Pontiac Correctional Center, an idea put forth by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration. The board said 53 employees and their families who live in the county would be left unemployed if the prison is shuttered.

– Unanimously approved a special use permit allowing Metamora Township High School to erect a temporary meteorological tower to measure wind speed and direction during a year-long period to assess the feasibility of building a permanent wind turbine.

– Denied by a 11-4 vote a resolution calling for the board to act as a facilitator between Navitas Energy and township road commissioners.

– Unanimously ratified a contract after coming out of executive session between the county and the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents correctional officers at the jail.

By Frank Radosevich II

Peoria Journal Star

31 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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