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Wind farm forum will be tonight

Both opponents and supporters of Horizon Wind Energy’s plan to erect 29 wind turbines in northern Logan County soon will have the opportunity to voice their opinions – possibly tonight, but most likely on Tuesday evening.

A public forum was set for 7:30 p.m. at Hartsburg-Emden High School tonight and was supposed to be the last step in the Logan County Zoning Board of Appeals’ process before making a recommendation to the full county board.

Because the meeting ran long Wednesday, Horizon project manager Bill Whitlock will be cross-examined, and Union Ridge Wind attorney Rick Porter will be calling an additional witness.

At Tuesday’s ZBA meeting, the Houston-based Horizon presented testimony from Peter Poletti, an appraiser who testified that wind turbines will not have a negative affect on nearby property values.

Porter, attorney for Union Ridge Wind, a group opposed to the construction of the wind turbines, attempted to discredit Poletti’s testimony by having his own appraiser testify to a 25 percent decrease in value around the Mendota Hills Wind Farm, the same location used in Poletti’s study.

Porter said in Poletti’s career, whether it has been appraising the effects of wind turbines, landfills or high-tension power lines, Poletti has never testified to a decrease in property value.

Porter also filed another motion to dismiss, a tactic that was effective in Horizon’s previous attempt to gain approval for construction.

“This time the applicant sent notices, which do not define the turbine sites with particularity in violation to the Illinois Statutes,” Porter said. “Instead, they are seeking conditional uses that cover the entire acreage of the farms where the turbines are proposed.

“If the county were to grant such a request, there would be an effectual change of the zoning of perhaps over 1,000 acres of property to allow industrial use.”

Porter said the applicant, Horizon, also failed to file the application at least 20 days before the scheduled ZBA meeting, which is contrary to the ZBA’s own mandatory application requirements.

Residents interested in voicing their concerns either for the construction, or against it, are encouraged to attend tonight’s meeting.

Logan County Board chairman Richard Logan said upon hearing the ZBA’s recommendation, an emergency meeting will be called as soon as possible for the county board to give deliberate on the issue.

Logan said he is ready to move on the issue as soon as he gets the green light from the ZBA.

“It’s just getting ridiculous at this point,” Logan said.

By Joshua Niziolkiewicz

Lincoln Courier

19 June 2008