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Wind farm breezes through planning commission  

The Logan County Regional Planning Commission placed its seal of approval on a land use zoning request that would allow 29 wind turbines to be built in northern Logan County.

Bloomington attorney Frank Miles spoke on behalf of the Railsplitter Wind Farm project. Bill Whitlock, development director for Horizon Wind Energy, who is overseeing the project, was also present to answer questions.

The project request was made to the commission last month but was delayed when it was found that not all the adjacent property owners had received notice by mail of public hearings that would be held.

Miles opened with an apology to the property owners and said some had been left out due to measurement of neighbors to the wind farm. They’d been measured from property line to turbine, rather than property to property line. This had been remedied with issuing new letters.

Next a representative of Union Ridge residents, Glen Fogler, read through a document reasoning opposition to the wind farm. That document can be read below. The opposition used pertinent areas of the Lincoln and Logan County Comprehensive Plan to demonstrate that the turbines would be incongruous to the stated land use for that area, and that there are areas that have been set aside for that type of development.

Commission member Dave Evans asked Logan County zoning officer Will D’Andrea about a letter received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

D’Andrea said that the IDNR would require the company to have studies performed that would measure and monitor pre- and post-construction, observing any change in wildlife habitat, presence of certain species and impact studies. The results of those studies could lead to the company’s construction times working around mating seasons or migratory patterns.

Commission members voted 10-0 to grant conditional use of the land that will remain zoned agriculture, with the following stipulations:

Receipt of:

* FAA “no significant impact”

* Property owner set-backs waivers

* Signed road agreement

* Signed decommissioning agreement

Members present and voting were Bill Martin, Bill Glaze, Carol Gustafson, Judy Graff, Dean Sasse, Dave Armbrust, Gerald Lolling, Dave Evans, Dick Logan and Gloria Luster.

Commission members not present were Jean Ann Hutchinson, Derrick Crane and Beth Davis-Kavelman.

The planning commission serves to review zoning and land use matters. For zoning matters they gather information and make a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The appeals board schedules hearings for the townships that are affected, in this case Eminence and Orville townships. Those hearings are set to take place at the Hartsburg-Emden Junior and Senior High School on June 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The appeals board will review all the information, gather public opinion and make a recommendation to the governing body that has the final authority. In this matter it will go to the county board.

By Jan Younquist

Text of document explaining opposition to wind farm:

Thank you for allowing us to address the Planning Commission. Union Ridge Wind would like to read a prepared statement. We would like to review with the Planning Commission the Comprehensive Plan and what it means for Logan County.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

The purpose of the plan is to serve as an advisor guide for making decisions regarding the future development of Logan County and its municipalities… It provides direction for the review of future development projects and offers guidance on a regional approach to related decisions on annexations, zoning and capital improvements. (Page 2).

The plan presents guidelines for coordinated actions that reflect the general, community-wide consensus in support of sensible growth to preserve and enhance the quality of life for residents of Logan County. (Page 2).

Additionally it identifies plans for the development of future land use. The Comprehensive Plan is long range in scope. It is generally designed to cover a period of approximately twenty years to the year 2030. (Page 2).

The plan was adopted in 2006. (Cover Page).

What is the Role of the Planning Commission?

The role of the Regional Planning Commission has assumed in the preparation of the plan will continue to be important in achieving implementation of the plan’s provisions. The Commission is a key factor in communicating the goals of the plan to the public, fostering cooperation among the county and local governments, and promoting collaborative approaches to the issues and priorities addressed in the plan. (Page 80).

A basic responsibility is participating in the review of the comprehensive plan, as all other actions and programs of the city to guide future development should be based upon the comprehensive plan. (Page 80).

Once the plan is adopted, the planning commission has a number of important responsibilities. It is responsible for reviewing development projects for consistency with the comprehensive plan. (Page 80).

Responsibility for the implementation of the regional comprehensive plan begins with Logan County government. (Page 79).

The goals, objectives and policies of the Regional Planning Commission are to establish the framework of the comprehensive plan by providing a means to evaluate existing conditions and to shape future plans, as well as providing guidelines for the review of future development proposals. (Page 39).

The Purpose of the Comprehensive Plan

Logan County’s long range goal is for a healthful and aesthetically pleasing environment that meets the physical, social and economic needs of ALL segments of the population. (Page VII).

Objective

Environmentally sound communities and regions with clean air and water and abundant open space and natural areas to provide or preserve scenic beauty, passive recreation, wildlife habitat, and high quality farmland. (Page 39).

Policies

Require compact and contiguous development. (Page 40).

Develop a county wide zoning standard for consideration and adoption by the County and municipalities to promote consistent development standards and equitable distributed development. (Page 40).

Restrict development in rural areas… through zoning or other appropriate controls applied consistently throughout Logan County. (Page 40).

Objective

Preservation and restoration of historic resources, including the County’s agricultural heritage, local historic sites and connections to Abraham Lincoln and Route 66. (Page 40).

Policies

Encourage and support projects, programs, and events that promote agriculture, Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 themes in Logan County. (Page 40).

Ensure new uses that complement the character of surrounding areas. (Page 40).

Objective

Land use patterns and intensities make efficient use of land and resources and enrich the local quality of life. (Page 42).

Provide abundant open space and green way corridors and linkages to meet ecological and recreational needs in developing area. (Page 42).

Promote development that is contiguous in existing communities… (Page 42).

Promote development that is compatible with and complementary to adjacent land uses. (Page 42).

How Does the Comprehensive Plan Address Land Use?

Sensible growth recognizes the potential benefits of population and economic growth, but sets high standards to preserve and enhance the community for both present and future generations by minimizing the economic and environmental cost of growth. (Page 1).

Sensible growth also occurs in harmony with the natural landscape and environment. (Page 1).

Land use planning endeavors to balance the social, economic, and environmental needs of the community. Both the quantity and location of land developed for various uses have enormous impact on the livability, economic soundness, and environmental balance of the region. (Page 45).

The plan is concerned with outlining a basic course of action to encourage development that preserves and enhances the local quality of life. (Page 6).

The County Land Use Plan is a guide for future decisions regarding the growth and development based on the designation of areas suitable for specific land uses. The designation of land areas for a particular use is based on a variety of factors. These factors include intensity of land use, proximity to other uses, the preservation of resources and amenities, and the potential of given land areas in the context of the goals and objectives set forth in the comprehensive plan. (Page 45).

Both the quality and the location of land developed for various uses have enormous impact on the livability, economic soundness and environmental balance of the region. (Page 45).

Agriculture

Logan County is situated at the geographic center of the state of Illinois, and exemplifies the rich natural resources of central part of the state, particularly in its highly productive agricultural areas. (Page 8).

More than 95% of the county’s 618 square miles are in active agricultural use, utilizing the area’s fertile soil and open topography. (Page V).

Certain principles of sound land use practice, as reflected in the goal, objectives, and policies presented in Chapter 3, form the core of future land use designation. The first is the preservation of irreplaceable natural resources, including prime agricultural land, water resources, and other natural features. (Page 46).

The overwhelming majority of Logan County’s land is dedicated to agricultural use, with less than 2% of the land area used for urban development in municipalities. (Page 96).

… rural land uses will continue to dominate Logan County for the foreseeable future. (Page 96).

Most of the land areas in Logan County is and will continue to be used for active agricultural production. The County is situated amidst some of the most productive and valuable agricultural land in the nation and the protection of this vital resource is the core principle of the comprehensive plan. (Page 53).

The primary threat to agricultural land lies in aggressive development at the edge of urban areas… (Page 53).

IndustrIal

Atlanta

Land designated for new commercial development totals more than 390 acres, much of which is easily accessible to Interstate 55, Route 66 or the main rail line, or combinations of the three transportation arteries. The TIF district also includes slightly more than 20 acres of land designated for industrial use. (Page 64).

Lincoln

Lincoln is expected to be the focus of considerable new development during the period of this plan, with both commercial and residential development anticipated. (Page 68).

The plan identifies 228 acres of commercial development area, and over 400 acres of industrial development area located primarily in the Woodlawn Road to 5th Street East-West corridors leading toward Interstate 55. Industrial development is also designated for locations on the northern edge of the city. (Page VIII).

Areas suited for industrial and light industrial use, approximately 140 and 275 acres, respectively, are located primarily in the western part of the city between Woodlawn Road and 5th Street. (Page 69).

An additional parcel is also located to the north-east of Union Street and bisected by a primary rail line. (Page 69.)

Mt. Pulaski

A fifteen and one-half acre portion of land designated for industrial use has been identified on the northwestern corner of McDonald and Topper Streets. (Page 72).

Why the Proposed Rail Splitter Wind Farm is Incompatible with the Intent of the Comprehensive Plan In Orvil and Eminence Township

Horizon keeps saying the construction of the wind turbines will not change the use of the agricultural land – that farmers will still be able to farm the land, but you all seem to forget that there are residential properties as well. It almost seems like we are insignificant. We don’t count. But we pay residential property taxes; we contribute to the economy and the community. We should be counted. It will not be healthful; it will not be aesthetically pleasing for us. If will not preserve and enhance our community. It will not be in harmony with the natural landscape and environment; it will be in conflict with our land use. It will adversely affect the character of our existing community. It will not enhance the quality of our life, it does not promote sensible growth, and it will not preserve our scenic beauty. It will not preserve our wildlife habitat, it will not provide us with open spaces, and it will not make efficient use of the land or its resources. It will not be complementary to adjacent land uses, it does not meet specific land use for our area, and it will not lessen the impact on the environment. It does not preserve the irreplaceable natural resources. The land will not be used for active agricultural production. More importantly it will change the core principle of the comprehensive plan for this area. It is an aggressive development. It is a threat to agricultural land; it is not the designated land use for the area, and this development is not in accordance with the comprehensive plan.

By allowing the construction of the proposed wind farm the dominant use of the area within the footprint of the wind farm changes from Agricultural/Residential to Industrial.

In the Comprehensive Plan the industrial areas are clearly designated to be located in Atlanta, Lincoln, and Mt. Pulaski.

In closing we believe that IF the planning commission votes to accept this proposed industrial wind project, it will forever change this pristine agricultural, residential land use.

[Text copied from file received]

www.lincolndailynews.com

5 June 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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