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Commissioners OK Clinton County wind project

After more than four years of research and community debate, the Clinton County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 Tuesday to grant a special use permit to a Chicago company that wants to build a $123 million wind-turbine project to generate electricity.

Although turnouts of about 150 residents – most of them opposed to the project – had been common at planning commission and township board meetings over the past year, barely 50 people attended the county board meeting, which started at 9 a.m.

Only four local residents – two in favor and two against – made public comments.

Bob Boettger, a farmer who has agreed to host eight of the proposed 39 turbines on his land, described the project as “something our community can be proud of when it’s completed.” He said it had benefited from the extensive review process.

Ken Wieber, a farmer who has fought the project at every step, compared the approval process to watching a traffic crash develop in slow motion over several years. He challenged commissioners to recognize what he said was growing evidence of adverse health effects related to wind turbines.

Among the commissioners, only Adam Stacey commented. He described the local-government review as the most fascinating and most frustrating public process he’d ever been involved in. Three weeks ago he had said he would vote against the permit and he followed through on Tuesday.

Project developer Tim Brown said he was grateful to secure permit approval but said it was too early to discuss what would happen next. The turbines are proposed for location across Bengal, Dallas and Essex townships, all of which have approved special ordinances more restrictive than the county.