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Wind farm company to relocate 6 towers from El Paso to Kappa

Navitas Energy won approval Tuesday to relocate six wind towers from near El Paso to the southern portion of its proposed 3,000-acre development.

The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to relocate the towers that were within half a mile of U.S. 24 or Interstate 39 to an area near Kappa.

The village of El Paso opposed 12 turbines to be placed near the village saying they would prohibit future development.

The Minneapolis-based company agreed to move six as a show of good faith, but six of the project’s 40 tower sites remain within 1½ miles of El Paso.

Wind farm opponent Steve Dressler asked about the location of a concrete batch plant for the project. Wanda Davies of Navistar said the company would purchase concrete for its tower bases from local companies.

Dressler criticized a sound study submitted by the company and questioned the safety and effectiveness of the towers.

“I’m not sure that they qualify for either one,” he said.

Kim Schertz, whose family operates an aerial crop spraying company in Hudson, read from a lengthy statement opposing the wind farms.

She said they are hazardous to pilots, challenged their power production capacity and alleged that they will hurt crop production and lower property values.

The board’s recommendation will go to the Woodford County Board, where several board members have stated they intend to add more stipulations to the overall project. An agreement between Navitas and township road commissioners has been the sticking point for the project since it was initially OK’d a year ago by the ZBA.

The ZBA will meet again today to consider a proposed ordinance for “small wind energy systems” with stipulations for those under 150 feet tall and those taller than 150 feet.

All three issues – moving the six towers, the overall project and the smaller towers – may make it on the agenda for the County Board meeting on Aug. 19.

By Jerry McDowell

Bloomington Pantagraph

29 July 2008