DIXON – A Rockford attorney representing Hamilton Township and a handful of residents who oppose wind farms wanted to see a company’s proposed application thrown out Thursday before hearings on it got under way.
At a meeting of the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals, attorney Rick Porter presented an 18-page motion contending Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power’s application for a wind farm was invalid.
The public hearing was held to hear Mainstream’s application for 58 turbines in the southwestern area of the county: Hamilton and East Grove townships. It is part of a three-county project that reaches into Whiteside and Bureau counties.
Porter contended the application failed to list specifically what type of turbines would be used in the proposed development and did not include the exact location of the turbines.
“There is no description of property lines,” Porter said. “You cannot tell where the turbines are going to be located and this is completely premature for us to be here on a special use hearing.”
He also argued the application for turbines as part of the wind farm did not qualify for a “special use” permit, thereby making a special use permit hearing inappropriate.
After hearing Porter’s motion, facilitator Tim Slavin advised the board to consult its attorney, Lee County State’s Attorney Henry Dixon. Slavin is a former circuit court judge who is presiding over the hearings.
Dixon said he did not have enough time to consider the motion, presented by Porter to him and zoning board members that night.
“When it comes to armed combat against an enemy, defense by ambush is a very valid proceeding,” Dixon said. “When it comes to legal matters, defense by ambush is not.”
“My view is that you should defer any determination with respect to the validity of the merit of this motion until the end of this proceeding,” Dixon said.
Upon Dixon’s advice, the board approved deferring Porter’s motion until a later date yet to be determined.
John Martin, senior project engineer for the proposed wind farm, then testified on behalf of the company. He spoke about the factors leading Mainstream to select the area for a wind farm, including its “proximity to grid lines; population density; strong wind regime and reasonable government regulations.”
Martin also covered basics of the project. He told the board and members of the public about the local outreach performed by the company. He also said environmental studies were started in 2009.
After Martin’s testimony, Porter began his cross-examination. He argued the application had changed from the time it went out to the time he received it, with respect to the exact location of turbines.
Martin said that while exact locations of turbines were not included, proposed parcels of land where they would be located were included.
Thursday was the first day of the hearing. The zoning board agreed Thursday to limit meetings to two and a half hours.
For more information
Minutes from past meetings and more information on upcoming Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals meetings can be viewed online at www.leecountyil.com. Call 815-288-5676 with questions.
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