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Students defend wind turbines despite objections

While the University’s wind turbine project has been in the works for years, some students feel the city of Urbana is overvoicing its opinion on the subject. The wind turbines, which will be built on the University’s South Farms, raised concern among some Urbana council members and residents at a city council meeting on Nov. 15.

“From our perspective, it seems like Urbana is trying to play politics with the wind turbine projects and pick a fight with the University,” said Amy Allen, president of Students for Environmental Concerns, or SECS, and junior in Engineering.

One objection raised by the citizens of Urbana was that they were not consulted in the decision to build the turbine.

“Urbana is grand standing. Urbana has no voting authority over the University,” said Suhail Barot, treasurer of SECS and graduate student. “They have no authority over what we do, where we build wind turbines, or basically anything.”

This is why the University doesn’t need to consult with Urbana in its decisions, he said.

“The University is a state agency. All the land that we own is basically in trust for the state of Illinois and we basically are the state of Illinois when we act in this kind of matter,” Barot said.

Urbana has wanted the University to follow its zoning throughout time, and when it doesn’t, conflict arises, he said.

“It would have been nice to consult with them and everything, but when we get down to it, if it’s on our property, then I think we’re good to do what we want with it,” said Kevin Schultz, senior in LAS.

Allen said the city of Urbana’s well-being was considered in the decision.

“When the sites were being selected this one was chosen even though it had somewhat less potential for wind, because it was farther from the city and farther from residences,” Allen said.

Some residents still remain concerned over the proximity of the wind turbine, but Barot said it shouldn’t affect the residents or their property values.

“The turbine isn’t particularly close to any Urbana residents. It’s over a mile outside of Urbana city limits,” he said. “It meets the states setback requirements. If we were subject to wind turbine regulation, we would meet that.”

The turbine could have positive effects on Urbana as well, Allen said.

“We see it having a positive effect on the city because it is such a pioneering development,” she said. “It’s a step toward reducing the campus’ reliance on Abbott, which is a coal burning power plant that is polluting air and potentially affecting the health of people in the community.”