August 18, 2010

Experts: Wind farm would ‘generate significant public benefit’

By Joe Deacon, Pantagraph, 17 August 2010

BLOOMINGTON – The company that operates the Twin Groves Wind Farm began making its case for permission to build another wind farm at a hearing Tuesday before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals.

Experts for Horizon Wind Energy testified that the proposed 223-turbine wind farm would “generate significant public benefit” while not adversely affecting property values.

But some opponents of the project don’t agree with the experts’ assertions.

“It’s diminishing our farmland; it’s diminishing our agriculture and it’s diminishing our property values,” said Hudson resident Kim Schertz, who has previously objected to other wind farm projects in the county. “It’s basically taking away the basic right of every homeowner in the area to the use and enjoyment of their property without compensation.”

Horizon is seeking a special-use permit to construct the Bright Stalk Wind Farm on about 37,800 acres in Lexington, Lawndale, Chenoa and Yates townships. The turbines, which would be placed on 225 to 240 homesteads, would stand up to 499 feet tall and produce as much as 400 megawatts of energy – enough to power as many as 120,000 homes.

After a presentation from Horizon project manager Robin Park, the zoning board heard from land use expert Allen Kracower and property value expert Pete Poletto, each of whom submitted reports in the company’s application.

Kracower testified the planned project complies with current county plans and would cause “no significant adverse effect to public health, safety or welfare.” Poletto showed the results of a study he conducted that indicate the difference between property values for residences near Twin Groves and those elsewhere in the eastern part of the county “is statistically insignificant.”

But Schertz took issue with a supporting study Poletto presented in the application, and was dissatisfied when she was not allowed to question the findings in that report.

The hearing will resume at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the ballroom of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

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