DANVILLE – Residents came out Tuesday to voice their opinions to the Vermilion County Board about the wind farm permit filed by Invenergy Wind LLC.
Ten people – eight with concerns about the California Ridge wind project – spoke for a total of 50 minutes to board members.
After a long question and answer session with Greg Leuchtman, business development manager for Invenergy, board members voted 21-1 to approve the building permit for the first wind farm in Vermilion County.
District 4 board member Terry Stal cast the lone vote against the permit.
Kim Cambron of Rankin left the meeting following the vote. One of the vocal opponents of the wind farm, Cambron said afterward she was “quite disappointed” in the board’s decision.
“I didn’t move to the county to live in a power plant,” she told board members during the meeting.
According to the application filed by the company, the California Ridge wind project will include 104 wind turbines in Vermilion County and 30 in Champaign County. It will start along County Road 2150N just north of Newtown in Pilot Township and stretches north and west to just across the line into Compromise and Ogden townships in Champaign County.
The board’s structural safety committee approved the building permit last week from Invenergy.
Cambron’s husband, Darrell, noted during audience comments that checklist items for the building permit – specifically a road agreement and design certification of the wind turbines – had not been fulfilled. Leuchtman said following the meeting that those items will be fulfilled before any construction begins.
The building permit approved by the board is conditional upon the completion of a road agreement with the county as well as a decommissioning plan and financial assurance that will be updated every five years.
Under terms, the building permit will be good for two years and may be extended to three years so long as actual construction has begun and is ongoing, according to the permit terms.
In addition, any additional structures or turbines will require additional permit applications.
With the permit approved, Leuchtman said construction could begin later this year and operations be initiated in late 2012.
The consequences of the county voting down the permit application were discussed during the meeting. County corporate counsel Bill Donahue said the board would be “skating on thin ice” by denying the building application.
He indicated it would be difficult legally to defend a denial without the premise of zoning – which the county does not have – or a legitimate legal basis.
“When 100 people sign up for it (to allow their property to be used for turbines), they have property rights, too,” he told board members.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
Republican John Alexander started the night in the audience and ended in a new county board seat, just days after resigning from the board.
Board members voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Alexander to the District 6 seat left open by the death of longtime board member Russ Pollitt in July. Alexander was sworn in by Vermilion County Clerk Lynn Foster.
Until Friday, Alexander had served a decade on the board in District 2 as a resident of Potomac. But a decision to move to a new home took him out of his district, causing him to file his resignation with Jim McMahon last week, effective July 6.
On Saturday, Alexander was nominated during a caucus by county Republicans to fill the District 6 seat.
As part of board action on Tuesday, a vacancy was declared for Alexander’s seat in District 2.