DANVILLE – Two of three townships in Vermilion County where the Hoopeston wind project is being planned have agreed to waive their zoning process and allow the county to regulate the planned development.
Tonight, the Vermilion County Board will consider agreements with Ross and Grant townships in northern Vermilion County that will spell out the township boards’ understanding that the county will oversee the siting of the turbines. According to plans submitted by the developer, International Power America Inc., some of the 43 turbines are also planned for sites in Butler Township, but that township has no zoning. The county board meets at 6 p.m. today at the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said the agreements allow the wind company to work with one unit of government instead of having to pass through all three units of government. McMahon said both townships have already approved the agreements.
“This is a real plus for the wind company,” he said. “It helps move the project more rapidly.”
Gary Weinard, Vermilion County Board member and Grant Township highway commissioner, said the agreements are meant to streamline the process and get everyone, including the county, townships and wind turbine developers, on the same page, so that if and when the wind farm comes, there’s one set of rules.
International Power America Inc., a subsidiary of International Power, headquartered in London, is planning a 43-turbine installation across about 8,000 acres of mostly farmland. The turbines would start about 1.5 miles west of Rossville and stretch to the west and northwest of town.
International Power is not the only company considering Vermilion County for possible wind turbine development.
In anticipation of such developments, the county, in cooperation with local economic development officials and turbine companies, developed a permitting process through which plans for each turbine must be reviewed, approved and issued a permit by the county. The permitting process includes regulations and requirements that most other counties have required of wind farms. In the absence of a countywide zoning system, Vermilion County created the permit process and a review board that serves the same role as a zoning board would but has authority only over wind turbine development.
Weinard said the next agreements concerning the wind farms will be intergovernmental agreements, involving International Power, the county and the townships, concerning how roads will be affected during construction and beyond.
Again, he said, the purpose will be to have one set of rules. He said meetings have already taken place regarding that set of agreements but are not complete yet.
Weinard said the county and township roads in the proposed area are not built to withstand the amount of and weight of traffic that will take place during construction of the turbines, so there must be agreements, stipulating how the wind farm developer will build up and maintain the roads to handle the level of use.
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