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Board to hold hearing on proposed wind farm

BLOOMINGTON – The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals will begin taking testimony Tuesday on a request by Horizon Wind Energy LLC to build a wind farm on about 37,800 acres in Lexington, Lawndale, Chenoa and Yates townships.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the ballroom of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N. East St.

Horizon is asking for a special-use permit that would allow up to 223 turbines, each standing up to 499 feet. The proposed Bright Stalk Wind Farm would produce between 300 and 400 megawatts of wind energy, enough to power between 90,000 and 120,000 homes.

The turbines would be placed on 225 to 240 homesteads. A map of the proposed sites can be viewed by clicking the related link.

Horizon also is seeking permission to apply for a building permit for the first phase up to three years after approval of the special use permit, rather than the two years allowed in county code. The company wants up to five years after construction starts to seek building permits for future phases.

After hearing testimony, the zoning board will forward its recommendation to the County Board, which will make the final decision.

If the special-use permit is granted, the project could start as early as November, said Brian Dunneback, Horizon Wind Energy project developer. Construction of the first phase would take about two years.

Because most of the transmission lines would fall in Livingston County, the project also will need approval from the Livingston County Board. Chuck Schopp, director of Livingston County Zoning Department, said Horizon has not yet applied for a permit and no hearings are scheduled before the zoning board of appeals.

Horizon also operates the 240-turbine Twin Groves Wind Farm south of Illinois 9 in eastern McLean County and won County Board approval in January for Black Prairie Wind Farm, north of Illinois 9 in eastern McLean County.