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County looks at wind ordinance; Apex seeks extension

The issue of wind turbines in Vermilion County will continue at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

Board members are slated to receive the recommendation report from the Wind Panel Advisory Board as well as discuss the extension of the building permit for the wind turbine project in the Hoopeston area.

Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Donahue said the Charlottesville, Va.-based company Apex submitted a request in mid-April for a one-year extension to the building permit issued for the Hoopeston project in 2011.

Donahue said among the terms in the original building permit issued for the Hoopeston project was language allowing the company in ownership of the project to receive a year’s extension just by requesting it.

Development of the Hoopeston Wind Farm has been ongoing since 2008. The most recent coordinator, GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc in Houston, Texas, took over in 2011 when it purchased the previous wind farm developer, International Power.

Apex acquired the Hoopeston Wind Farm from GDF SUEZ in February.

Donahue said Apex receives only one extension request per the permit agreement. If the company returns in a year still needing more time, it would be up to board members whether Apex would have to apply for a new permit.

Since the beginning, the Hoopeston project has called for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch reaching from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville. A permit for the Hoopeston Wind Farm was approved by the Vermilion County Board in April 2011.

Regarding the Wind Panel Advisory Board report, panel members are expected to pass along several recommendations whittled down from a public hearing in April and two panel meetings.

In discussions on the panel, members came to the agreement that the increased setbacks suggested by some residents were not the answer.

In the end, the panel decided to pass along five recommendations to the county board to consider:

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting:

Vermilion County Auditor Linda Lucas Anstey told members of a joint county committee on Thursday that reimbursements from the Public Building Commission had begun to slow down, leaving the county at $400,000 in checking for those reimbursements.

The ordinance is proposed in case those reimbursements fall further behind. Under the current set up, the Public Building Commission runs the Juvenile Detention Center and the Public Safety Building. The county makes rent and lease payments to the Public Building Commission at the beginning of the fiscal year.

During the course of the year, the commission then makes monthly reimbursements for county expenses such as employee wages, food, laundry and other areas.

Mark Cravens, superintendent of building and grounds, told Thursday’s joint committee the additional funds were necessary because the county is taking over all maintenance of the Vermilion County Courthouse from the Public Building Commission.

In the past, the commission has handled heavy maintenance issues while the county covered lighter maintenance, such as cleaning of the building. Funds to pay the commission were taken from leftovers from a courthouse renovation bond passed in the 1980s.

Money from that courthouse renovation bond, however, has run out as of earlier this year.