A wind farm in northern Logan County is poised to win approval from the Logan County Board.
A straw poll of County Board members revealed overwhelming support for a special-use permit for the Horizon Wind Energy project. The board’s official vote is expected Tuesday.
The Logan County Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals previously recommended the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, which would have 67 wind turbine towers, each standing 389 feet tall. Twenty-nine of the electricity-generating towers would be in Logan County and the rest in Tazewell County.
The Tazewell County Board already has given its approval.
Prior to the straw vote at the board’s committee of the whole session Thursday, several Logan County residents, including many from the Emden area near the proposed site, aired their feelings. Several were members of Union Ridge Wind, a group formed to oppose the wind farm.
“It appears this board has been working hand in hand with this company for four years,” said Barb Aper, who opposed the wind farm. “Why have you not worked hand in hand with the citizens of Logan County? Who can we turn to?”
Following the public comments, Logan County Board Chairman Dick Logan rebutted those who said County Board members did not listen to concerns of the group opposing the wind farm.
“I represent more than 30,000 Logan County residents, not just a few,” Logan said. “I have never refused to talk to anyone on either side of any issue. I have talked with a lot of people about the wind farm and most of them are in favor of it.”
Previously, the ZBA held seven public hearings on the wind farm. Board members also listened to public comments during the June board meeting.
Rockford attorney Rick Porter, representing the Union Ridge Wind group, lobbied the board to include a provision calling for a property value guarantee. That would require Horizon Wind Energy to compensate home owners if their property values fall as a result of the wind farm.
“My clients are mostly concerned about the property values,” Porter said. “If you can institute a property value guarantee plan for those that live within a mile of the wind farm, then my clients will most likely be satisfied and we would be likely to drop any further legal action.”
The board did not discuss implementing the clause as part of the permit.
After the meeting, Porter said that if the board approves the permit, he likely will file an appeal on the grounds that the permit is not legal and that the land should be zoned for industrial use if it is to be used for a wind farm. The permit would allow using land zoned for agricultural use for a wind farm.
Two board members, John Stewart and Chuck Ruben, abstained from the vote, citing potential conflicts of interest because they have property near the proposed wind farm.
By Kevin Barlow
11 July 2008
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