EUREKA – While the Woodford County Board passed a resolution backing up a previous promise to exempt Minonk Wind Farm LLC from recently adopted regulations, it fell short of the zoning code amendment the project developer wanted.
While representatives of Spanish-based developer Gamesa said the company could take the issue to court for legal clarification, no such decision has been made yet.
“We’re disappointed with the decision,” said Jiddu Tapia, Gamesa’s chief development officer. “I think there probably was a little bit of confusion as to why the amendment is necessary. But we’ve received a lot of support for the project.
“There is a little difference of opinion, but we hope to find a solution.”
The board voted 7-6 against an amendment to the zoning code that would specifically exempt Minonk Wind Farm from code changes approved Feb. 27 affecting setbacks and shadow flicker for wind turbines. The board did approve the measure, however, in the form of a resolution by a 12-1 vote.
The board acted against the advice of Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger. He said the Feb. 27 changes should not apply to the Minonk project because the project’s special-use permits were issued prior to the changes.
“There’s the potential for liability if it’s not passed,” Minger told the board about the amendment.
Board member Tom Janssen, an attorney, backed up Minger’s assessment.
“A resolution is an expression of your intent,” Janssen said. “A text amendment is an expression of law.”
During public discussion, Gamesa attorney Pauline Doohan said that if the amendment did not pass, Gamesa has the option to ask a court to clarify whether the Feb. 27 changes apply to the Minonk Wind Farm.
The threat of litigation was no deterrent to the board members who voted against the amendment.
“It doesn’t matter if black is black, there would still be two attorneys who would fight over it,” said board member Doug Huser.
Gamesa officials said construction on the Minonk site has begun and will continue with work on the “laydown yards,” a central location for delivery of materials. Construction is expected to ramp up during the summer and be complete before Dec. 31.
The wind farm is expected to have 75 turbines in Woodford County and 25 in Livingston County.
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