Woodford County wind farm plan altered; Navitas Energy to change proposed location of turbines near El Paso
Navitas Energy, the Minneapolis-based company wanting to develop a wind farm near the city of El Paso, has told the Woodford County Zoning office it will relocate six proposed turbines it first planned to put within a half-mile of Illinois Route 24.
The statement, made last week but which officials said has been in the works for several months, came after the city of El Paso objected to the project’s original plan that listed 12 turbines within a 1 1/2-mile radius of the city. El Paso eventually filed a letter asking the six turbines neighboring Route 24 be removed from the area.
A revised map provided to the county zoning office shows the relocated turbines will now be placed in the southern portion of the 40-turbine, 3,000-acre development about 3 miles northwest from Kappa.
John Hamann, county zoning administrator, said a public notice will be published about the proposed change during the first week of July and a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals has been tentatively set for July 29 and 31.
Paul Lewis, the Peoria-based attorney for Navitas, said the move was made in response to El Paso’s objection and is a show of good faith by the company to work with all parties affected by the project.
“We’re looking to be good neighbors,” Lewis said. “We want it all on the table. We want it all out in the open.”
El Paso Mayor Herb Arbuckle called the move a “partial victory,” but added that, “in an ideal world, yes, we would like to see all of them out of that mile-and-a-half” radius around the city.
The city opposes the 12 turbines placed nearby, saying the towers would stunt future development.
With the McLean County border to the east and residential growth to the north and south, Arbuckle said the land along Route 24 is the city’s best bet for business development. And with the county requiring a setback of at least 1.1 times the height of the tower from other structures and adjacent property lines, he said wind turbines would cut up the large swath of land.
“That’s the only direction El Paso can grow for commercial or industrial growth,” he said. Placing turbines on the city’s western edge is “almost like building a fence around El Paso.”
Moving the six turbines may have other effects on the project’s overall status, as well. Since repositioning them alters the original submitted plans, the relocation will have an impact on new properties and roadways. If the county considers the change significant enough, Navitas may need to seek separate approval for the move.
In the meantime, Hamann said the zoning office is treating the change as a separate special use application that is tied to the original development.
By Frank Radosevich II
19 June 2008
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