DANVILLE – County board committee members approved changes to the Vermilion County wind ordinance on Thursday.
The ordinance, originally passed two years ago, called for a 1,000-foot set-back for wind turbines from property as well as a fee of $1,000 charged by the county per turbine planned for a wind farm.
Under proposals approved by the committee on Thursday, the $1,000 fee will be upped to $4,500 per turbine. Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said the move equalizes Vermilion County with the fee structure currently in place in Champaign County.
The fee increase will also help to cover the work put in for the permit and agreement process covered by the county’s corporate counsel and highway engineer.
In addition to the fee change, the property set-back was extended to 1,200 feet from the primary residence on the property.
District 6 board member John Alexander questioned the 1,200-foot set-back from the primary building of an adjacent property as compared to a separate distance outlined in the ordinance that extends from the property boundary with an adjacent property.
McMahon and corporate counsel Bill Donahue said the 1,200-foot set-back is set up for aesthetic purposes for adjoining residents. However, the property line distance – described as a little more than the height of a wind turbine – is used for safety in the event a turbine were to fall over.
The wind turbines average about 360 feet, according to McMahon.
McMahon said Thursday’s changes may not be the only ones that come down the line.
“This doesn’t mean we won’t look at it and tweak it some more as we can” he said.
In addition, committee members heard an update on the road use agreement, the final hurdle in beginning the county’s first wind turbine project. The most recent project, which has been approved, calls for Invenergy Wind LLC to construct 104 wind turbines as part of the company’s California Ridge Wind Energy Project.
The first announced project, the Hoopeston Wind Project, owned by GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc., features 40 wind turbines. However, the company asked to put the project on hold earlier this year with the county indicating the company had been looking for an upgrade to power lines to handle the electricity generated by the turbines. The $47,000 application fee paid to the county was put in escrow.
Also at Thursday’s meeting:
Committee members approved a lease agreement for city parking facilities.
The agreement for $38,000 per year makes changes from the current parking set up. Among the changes is the addition of a $25 fine for county employees who are parked in the first two blocks of either North Vermilion Street or North Hazel Street. This is a change from the traditional two-hour parking limit enforced in the past.
Danville Director of Public Works Doug Ahrens brought the contract agreement before the Vermilion County Board’s executive and legislative committee at its Sept. 29 meeting.
The new parking fine for county employees runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The change in enforcement is the result of a downtown survey conducted two years ago by city officials.
“This is something the city thinks will help downtown business,” McMahon said.
All of the wind ordinance and county parking issues must still be brought before the full county board at its monthly meeting on Nov. 8.
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