Board concerns blowing in the wind; Brookston Town Council to debate pros and cons of allowing a wind-energy concern to expand
Brookston’s town council will spend the next two weeks deciding whether allowing a wind-energy concern to expand its original plans will hinder development.
During their regular meeting Wednesday evening, the Brookston town board heard from White County Economic Development Director Connie Neininger and representatives from Horizon Wind Energy.
Horizon, headquartered in Texas, wants to develop an energy-producing wind farm in West Point, Prairie, Round Grove, Big Creek and Honey Creek Townships in White County. Representatives from the green-energy concern have met with local officials many times, and have generally received approval for their endeavors.
“We’ve been working with Horizon for a little over a year now, and things are going well,” said Neininger, adding that the county is working to create relevant tax codes and a wind ordinance, which would regulate setbacks from roads and residential properties.
However, Neininger explained, Horizon hoped to expand the project.
“The project boundary was originally created two miles east of (Route) 43,” said Horizon Project Manager Martin N. Culik, who was joined by Project Coordinator Julie Schubart and White County Commissioner Steve Burton.
“Since then, we’ve gotten a lot of interest from farmers wanting to sign up their land,” he explained.
Culik and Horizon hoped that the project could be expanded from two miles east of Route 43 to one mile east of the highway. He explained that before anything was set in stone, he wanted to get approval from Brookston.
The concern for Horizon and the Brookston council was future development of the town.
“We don’t want to do that expansion to the east and hinder Brookston’s growth,” Culik explained. “We want to be good neighbors.”
“What are you looking for as far as growth of Brookston?” asked Neininger. “We don’t want to hinder that.”
Council President Joseph Butz indicated that he saw the town’s development staying close to Route 43.
“I don’t think it’ll go past a mile, development wise,” he said.
Culik explained that the required setbacks for residences from the turbines would be 1,000 feet by the county; but Horizon would likely maintain 1,500 feet setbacks from homes.
Commercial properties, he explained, could build closer.
Continuing, Culik informed the council that Horizon hoped to begin developing the wind farm relatively soon.
“We plan to start construction next year, hopefully by April 2009,” he said.
Town attorney George Loy pointed out a potential benefit to the town.
“Horizon can market the energy generated to anybody; but Martin said he is willing to look into selling it directly to Brookston,” Loy said, which Culik confirmed.
Butz and the board agreed that they would like time to think about it, and Culik agreed.
“I don’t want to make a decision without your input,” Culik said, adding that the town could still annex land on which turbines had been built, just not build residences close to them.
“The boundary of the setback would limit where you can build,” said Burton.
“We tried to cover all our bases in the ordinance,” explained Neininger.
The council agreed to think on it and come back with a decision at their next meeting on June 25.
12 June 2008
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