DANVILLE – Residents on both sides of the wind farm debate in Vermilion County will get another public forum to voice their opinions.
The Vermilion County Board executive committee, which met Thursday night, adjourned with plans to conduct a public forum within the next 45 days to allow supporters and opponents of the wind turbines to voice their opinion.
The forum is the result of discussions brought on by District 3’s Charles Nesbitt, who asked for a moratorium on the current county wind ordinance as well as presented committee members with a proposed amendment to the county’s wind farm ordinance.
Nesbitt, among other items, proposed in the amendment the setback between any property line and a wind turbine should be 1,320 feet. The amendment went further to declare a wind turbine should be at least 2,640 feet from the primary structure on any property.
Nesbitt, in proposing the amendment, said the county wind ordinance was “weak.” He also quoted one constituent as saying they had moved out of the county, in part, because allegedly the turbines had dropped the value of the property 40 percent.
He refused to identify the former resident following the meeting.
The setback was originally declared at 1,000 feet from a property line when the ordinance was passed four years ago. In November 2011, county board members approved extending that distance to 1,200 feet.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Donahue said the expanded setback for wind turbines would restrict wind turbine farm building and expansion.
“Our surveys indicate that would make (any wind farm) non-competitive and a deal killer,” he told board members.
In the end, John Alexander of District 6 suggested the county schedule a public forum for people on both sides of the issue to state their opinions. The forum will take place in the next 45 days with a time and location not set at Thursday’s meeting.
Nesbitt, following the meeting, said he supported Alexander’s idea.
“I think the Vermilion County Board can tailor a wind ordinance that can satisfy both sides of the issue,” he said. No action will be taken on the wind ordinance as part of the public forum.
The issue was enough to bring out several people to the committee meeting Thursday. Roy Knight, road commissioner for Pilot Township, said there is a group of people living in the Invenergy LLC wind farm that support the change.
On the other side, Hoopeston farmer Larry Beck said the amendment is an effort to stop wind farms from building.
“I don’t think that people are going to come in and build wind turbines under that,” he told committee member.
Darryl Cambron – a long-time opponent of the wind farms – supported a moratorium for the county.
“There’s no rush to bring these things to every corner of our county,” he said.
The Invenergy California Ridge wind farm – which includes 134 turbines, 104 in Vermilion County – officially began operations at the end of December.
The Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm permit was approved in April 2012. 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.
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