DANVILLE – The decision to approve the permit for the second wind farm in Vermilion County was put on hold at Tuesday’s Vermilion County Board meeting.
Board members were expected to vote to give final approval to the wind farm application for the Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm being coordinated by GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Donahue, who has worked with the wind turbine projects, said prior to Tuesday’s meeting the company contacted the county late Monday indicating it would not be available to attend Tuesday’s county board meeting.
“We thought it would be prudent to wait until they could be here,” he said, noting the potential of questions from board members.
Also late Tuesday evening, county officials confirmed the apparent rescinding of another planned wind farm project in northern Vermilion County through Iberdrola.
The project calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.
The decision to drop the wind turbine vote answers the pleas by Darrell and Kim Cambron of rural Rankin, who have offered repeated arguments as to why the county should slow its movement toward more wind farms.
On Tuesday, the Cambrons were joined by Ford County resident Tom Harrison, who lives east of Paxton about 1,100 feet from a turbine in the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm.
Harrison told board members during the meeting’s audience comments he has dealt with health and property value concerns since the wind farm began operations in October. He appealed to board members to make the right decision.
“Do your homework,” he said. “Serve your people right.”
The structural safety committee voted 5-1 to approve the permit application with the understanding that several items – including renewal of the company’s general liability insurance for construction and verification that all 38 land leases for the project were filed with the recorder’s office – would be taken care of prior to the meeting.
Donahue said Tuesday those issues have been resolved.
Board member Kevin Green of District 2 stood up during the meeting, contending he would consider the application incomplete and vote against it unless the company filed a Natural Resource Information report with the Soil and Water Conservation District.
The report – which Green said is required under law for agricultural lands – was included in the California Ridge wind farm application approved last year. The district, according to Green, examines the report and, upon completing it, issues an opinion to the county.
The Natural Resource Information report was not brought up during the structural safety committee meeting in January.
Development of the Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm has been ongoing since 2008. Prior to being dropped from Tuesday’s agenda, the timetable called for it to be completed by 2014.
While this wind farm vote has been pushed back 30 days, another project looks to be on the way out altogether.
Vermilion County Recorder Barbara Young confirmed Tuesday evening that Heartland Wind LLC has withdrawn 58 of 63 land leases in the county. The leases date back, according to recorder’s office documents, as early as July 2009.
Heartland Wind LLC had been working with Iberdrola on a potential wind farm project in the northwest corner of Vermilion County.
Donahue said neither Heartland Wind LLC nor Iberdrola had launched any formal talks with the county regarding applying for a wind farm permit.
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