EUREKA – When it comes to the legalities of the Minonk wind-energy farm, interested parties have said it’s all about the process, not the project.
The Woodford County Board is likely to review the process Tuesday night. How that might affect the project isn’t clear.
During a meeting set to begin at 6:30 p.m., the board is expected to vote on a proposed partial ownership transfer of the 100-turbine wind farm under construction east-southeast of Minonk. Issues regarding the validity of a county-issued special-use permit for the project have been much debated during recent meetings of the board’s conservation, planning and zoning committee.
The wind-farm owner, Gamesa Technology Corp., states its special-use permit is transferable, and nothing in it contradicts that.
“We’re aware of the process and are committed to complying with the special-use permit,” said Duane Enger, the project manager. “We’re satisfied we’ve done this properly.”
Doug Huser, chairman of the zoning committee, believes Gamesa is violating the permit terms. He said he filed a complaint Monday with county Zoning Administrator Kim Holmes.
Huser’s objections include how the project’s decommissioning aspect is funded. He also has said the special-use permit issued in 2010 to Minonk Wind LLC violates a county zoning ordinance regarding transfers.
“Sooner or later, you have to draw a line in the sand and take a final stand,” Huser said.
Enger said he has consulted with Holmes frequently about the permit, and she has not indicated any problems.
Last week, the zoning committee voted 3-2 to reject a motion to forward the matter to the full board. But any member can ask for an item to be placed on the board agenda, which this month includes the ownership-transfer resolution.
According to Debbie Ulrich of the County Board office, Chairman Stan Glazier placed the resolution on the agenda. Glazier did not return telephone messages Monday.
Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger told the zoning committee the proposed transfer to Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. is valid. Not allowing it would be a breach of contract, he indicated.
“I think we may be really up a creek,” Minger said about a rejection. “We allowed them to build it. … We would lose that in court.”
Gamesa and Algonquin need to appear before the Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals and plead their cases for an amended permit, according to Huser.
After the Minonk project was approved, the County Board enacted tighter restrictions on future wind developments. Huser said this is not a retroactive attempt to foil the Minonk wind farm, which likely will be completed by the end of the year.
“Nobody on that board I know of is trying to stop this project or hold this transfer up,” Huser said. “The ones who are opposed want this mess to be straightened out so it can be put to bed.”
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