A 155-turbine wind farm in Livingston County likely will be recommended when the Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals reconvenes Monday.
Iberdrola Renewables has proposed the Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm, which would be spread across 15,000 acres in between Odell and Emington. Hearings that stretched over weeks ended Thursday with Iberdrola’s closing arguments and a review of possible special conditions to be attached to the project recommendation.
The board will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday at the Pontiac Township High School auditorium to discuss the recommendation to the County Board. The ZBA decided to wait to vote because member Don Thorp was absent Thursday.
“The Zoning Board of Appeals staff can put together special conditions or changes in the draft, but we must all vote on these conditions,” said Steve Walters, who temporarily chaired the ZBA.
The County Board may take up the wind farm question in July. It also can ask for more information or apply special conditions of its own.
The County Board’s agriculture and zoning committee will discuss the project at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the basement of the Livingston County Public Safety Complex, 844 W. Lincoln St.
Much of the discussion Thursday came from board member Mike Cornale, who said he would like to see a clarification on the project’s funding, changes in timeframes for road maintenance agreements, installation lights on top of every turbine and a requirement that information about the project be displayed on billboards and in literature.
He also said he wants to know whether the promised property tax benefits to the county can be guaranteed.
“This has always been one of the biggest selling points for the turbines,” Cornale said. “I just want to know if there is any condition to guarantee the taxes we’ve been promised.”
The taxes are based on an assessment formula developed by the state, and more information on how the state assesses turbines will be provided Monday, Livingston County Zoning Administrator Chuck Schopp said.
Hearings have included residents for and against the project.
Opponents have said the turbines are unsightly, noisy and disruptive to birds, bats and airplanes. Proponents have said those problems are overstated and cited economic benefits to property owners leasing the sites and to the county’s taxing bodies,
Iberdrola officials continued said project offered the “right time, right team and right place.”
“You will find that all of the requirements are met and actually go far beyond what is expected,” Iberdrola attorney Mike Massie said.
By Tony Sapochetti
27 June 2008
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