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Resident questions Vermilion wind farm rules

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County committee charged with overseeing the permit process for wind farms met for the first time Monday to begin its review of the county’s first wind farm application. But one resident at the meeting still wants the county to reconsider its wind ordinance before moving through the application process.

Rankin-area resident Kim Cambron distributed some information about her safety concerns regarding wind turbines to the six members of the newly assembled committee of county officials.

In the absence of a countywide zoning system, the Vermilion County Board approved a few years ago an ordinance that specifically regulates the placement and construction of wind turbines in the county. Any turbine developer must seek a building permit from the county prior to construction. The structural and safety committee will then review the developer’s application to ensure it meets requirements of the ordinance; they will also hold a public hearing to gather residents’ comments before issuing a permit.

International Power America Inc., a London-based company, is planning the Hoopeston Wind project with up to 47 wind turbines stretching west and north from about 1.5 miles west of Rossville.

Earlier this year, that company submitted its application and its $47,000 permitting fee to the county in anticipation of this project, triggering the first meeting of the structural safety committee on Monday.

Monday’s meeting was primarily a time for the committee to get organized, and committee Chairman Kolby Riggle told the members that its role will be to review the applications and determine whether they meet the requirements of the county ordinance as written.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said before Monday’s meeting that the county board’s executive committee will be revisiting the county’s ordinance and is scheduled to hear the concerns of Cambron and her husband, Darrell Cambron, at a future meeting. He said their concerns will be taken under consideration by the executive committee, and if they want to propose any changes to the wind turbine ordinance, that committee would make recommendations to the full county board.

Cambron said she and her husband live south of Rankin near the proposed area of the Hoopeston Wind Project, and their property is also in the midst of another proposed wind farm that’s being considered by another company, leasing property around them.

Cambron, who has been researching the viability of and effect of wind turbines on the environment and public across the state and the nation, said the county’s ordinance was written three years ago and needs to be revisited to reflect new concerns raised in other states and communities in regard to the “inherent problems” that come with wind turbines. Cambron, who questions whether wind is a viable energy source without federal government incentives, said some of the concerns include the noise they create, the shadow effect caused by the rotating blades and potential impacts on the environment, property values, property owners and wildlife. She said the ordinance also lacks provisions for families in rural areas who haven’t signed leases, like she and her husband.

“I think we do need to look at other communities and listen to others about this issue,” she said. “I understand that we need to look at what we’re doing as a nation (in regard to energy), but you cannot rush. You cannot put the cart before the horse, and it’s not all about money.”

The wind turbine committee’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 12 at the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville, and a public hearing to gather comments on the proposed wind farm will be scheduled later but also will be held at the courthouse annex in Danville.

Committee member William Donahue told his colleagues that he will be scheduling some times in the northern part of the county when residents can meet with him to voice their concerns, if the public hearing time and meeting place is not convenient for them.