HOOPESTON – The first public meetings regarding the Hoopeston Wind Project drew criticism and support from two groups of residents in the northern part of the county where the wind turbines would operate.
Separate meetings in Hoopeston and Rossville on Friday each attracted more than a dozen people, some in support of wind turbines and some in opposition, including Kim and Darrell Cambron, who live near Rankin.
The Cambrons, who have spoken out at past Vermilion County Board meetings, have asked the county to revisit its wind turbine ordinance and consider changes. On Friday, the Cambrons again urged the county to consider certain issues, including the distance between wind turbines and residences, noise protections, effect of shadows created by the rotating turbines, impact on property values and more. Some members of the public said the wind farm would help property values while others disagreed.
The meetings on Friday were held to gather public comments as the county’s structural safety committee prepares on Tuesday to consider whether to issue a permit for the wind farm to Hoopeston Wind LLC, owned by London-based International Power America Inc. The Hoopeston Wind Project would include more than 40 wind turbines stretching north and west from Rossville. With no zoning system, the county created a wind ordinance requiring developers to meet specific guidelines before a construction permit is issued.
The committee meeting and public hearing will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville. The committee will decide whether to issue the permit at that time. Friday’s meetings in Hoopeston and Rossville were made available for residents who did not want to, or could not, travel to Danville on Tuesday.
Bill Donahue, a member of the county’s structural safety committee and assistant state’s attorney to the county board, gathered the comments at Friday’s meeting. Some in attendance did not want to make official statements for the record, or did not want to give their names, while others just wanted more information about the Hoopeston Wind Project. Donahue tried to address most of the questions, although he said that was not the purpose of the meetings.
Donahue said the structural safety committee’s focus on Tuesday will be limited, and it’s not designed to be a debate on whether the county wants or doesn’t want wind farms. He said that was something decided when the landowners leased their land to the developers. The committee’s focus will be, he said, whether the developer’s application complies with the county ordinance. He said a broader discussion on wind turbines will come at the county’s executive committee meeting at 4:30 p.m. April 28 at the courthouse annex. At that time, the committee will hear the concerns of the Cambrons on how the county might change its wind ordinance, Donahue said.
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