PONTIAC – A proposed wind farm in Livingston County was recommended for approval Monday and now moves to the County Board.
The Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously voted to recommend Iberdrola Renewables’ plan for the Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm, a 155-turbine project scattered across 15,000 acres between Odell and Emington. If approved, work on the project could begin by the end of 2009 and finish by the end of 2011.
The project’s “overwhelming advantages” outweigh the potential disadvantages, ZBA temporary Chairman Steve Walters said.
“There are just so many overwhelming positives and a few negatives, but it’s more of a cost-benefit analysis as you look at the problems it’s going to cause and look at the advantages,” he said. “There is no pure 100 percent positive thing to come along. Everything cost something.”
The County Board’s agriculture and zoning committee will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the basement of the Livingston County Public Safety Complex, 844 W. Lincoln St. It will review the project and the ZBA’s recommendation, Livingston County Zoning Administrator Chuck Schopp said.
That committee will send its own recommendation to the full Livingston County Board later this month.
Schopp said the County Board has the final say.
During the two-hour meeting, the ZBA took time to review the entire project and discuss various details concerning conditions for a special-use permit for the project.
Among the conditions applied to the recommendation is a requirement for Iberdrola to condition road usage and repair agreements with the county and townships within 30 days of the granting of the permit. The conditions also mandate: setting up some form of financial guarantee to protect the county if the turbines are decommissioned or abandoned; how the turbines will be taxed; seeking the maximum lighting requirements under Federal Aviation Administration rules; and establishing a mechanism for handling noise complaints.
“The process was very interesting and none of us have ever done this before, except the consultants of course, so we were kind of learning as we went along” Walters said. “I think the thing that impressed me the most was the demeanor of everybody on both sides of the aisle … and I heard about what happens at other counties with these approvals and it was warfare.”
A process of public hearings for this project began in late April and spanned 10 different sessions. The last one was Monday night.
Over the course of the hearings, Iberdrola spoke about the project, and members of the public had the opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions.
Those supporting the wind farm say the project will create hundreds of temporary construction jobs and 15 to 23 permanent jobs and generate property tax money. The first year could see each turbine producing $20,000 to $28,000 in tax money, but that would decrease over time because of depreciation.
Those opposed to the wind farm said it would drastically change the landscape of the area, causing property values to fall and impeding economic development. They argue the blades could affect birds and bats and the noise could disturb neighbors, but Iberdrola says those complaints are overstated.
By Tony Sapochetti
Monday, June 30, 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding