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Wind turbine case back to zoning board

URBANA – A zoning case for a 30-turbine wind farm development is going back to the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals, the county board voted Tuesday night at a committee of the whole meeting.

The move was made after Invenergy Wind North America LLC, the Chicago-based developer of the proposed wind farm in northeast Champaign County, submitted new language regarding a reclamation agreement governing the project.

The ZBA will review the revised language at its meeting Thursday night, with the full county board voting on a special use permit for the wind farm proposal at its regular Nov. 17 meeting. State law requires the county board to vote on the special use permit request this month.

Two paragraphs added by Invenergy, which will be reviewed by the ZBA on Thursday, say: “The obligation to perform the reclamation work hereunder shall constitute a covenant running with the land. Any and all financing and/or security agreements entered into by principal shall be subject to said covenant.

“Any and all financing and/or security agreements entered into by principal shall expressly provide that they are subject to the foregoing covenant. Evidence of the same must be submitted to the zoning administrator prior to any zoning use permit approval.”

The new language, according to Invenergy attorney Michael Blazer, “says that whoever we finance the project with will also be obligated to decommission these things in the event they ever take over the project.

“The security agreements will come behind the county’s rights to have the project decommissioned.”

The county, Blazer said, now has “absolute protection against liability.”

The proposed wind farm would be built between Royal and Gifford on rural land in the northeastern part of the quadrant. A larger share of the wind farm, officially known as the California Ridge Wind Energy project, is already under construction in Vermilion County, Blazer said

The committeee of the whole also forwarded to the full county board without recommendation a road use agreement between the county and Invenergy for the upgrade and maintenence of two miles of county roads that will be used in construction of the wind farm. It also will be considered at the Nov. 17 meeting.

In other action, Alan Reinhart, the county’s facilities director, reported that the finial atop the county courthouse tower has been reinstalled and that all replacement costs were covered by the county’s insurer.

“Hopefully it will stay up there for a very long time,” Reinhart said of the decorative piece that toppled from the tower in a wind storm in April.

Three of the 27 board members were absent Tuesday, including Democrats Alan Kurtz and Lloyd Carter and Republican Stephanie Holderfield.