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Public hearings set for Livingston County wind farm

PONTIAC – Livingston County residents will get their say regarding a proposed wind farm next month at a meeting of the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

The ZBA has scheduled hearings Nov. 17, 18 and 19 on a special-use permit application from Invenergy, an energy development company based in Chicago. The first meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Pontiac Township High School. Details of subsequent meetings will be announced later.

The firm hopes to add 136 turbines scattered over 30,000 acres of farmland in the southeastern portion of the county.

The plan is being opposed by several county residents who have been attending County Board and committee meetings in hopes of persuading the board to vote against the project.

“It has become a full-time job for many of us,” said Megan Dassow of Chatsworth. “We don’t feel like we are getting all of the pieces of the puzzle to this story. We get home from work, get on the computer to do research and educate ourselves so we can help our county leaders make an informed decision.”

On Thursday night, the Livingston County Board will consider a request to allow Patrick Engineering, a consultant, to do a third sound study for the proposed wind farm. The firm has already conducted two previous studies, but the results have not yet been released.

The board will take no other action on the wind farms until after the ZBA hearings.

The board also is considering updating the current wind farm ordinances which were supposed to be reviewed in 2006 and 2010.

“This isn’t just a pro-wind farm or anti-wind farm issue,” Dassow said. “It goes back to the current ordinances, which were never reviewed. Now we have a new project being considered and the county has old ordinances they are working with.”

Several other changes may be considered by the board in the future, including changes to the current zoning regulations that would allow for a guarantee from the wind farm company that property values wouldn’t decrease because of a new wind farm. The county also may consider a moratorium on wind farm projects until the ordinances can be updated.

The changes would have to go through the committee, the ZBA and finally, the County Board.

Fairbury resident Steve Weeks presented the committee with a proposed resolution for a moratorium, but county attorney Tom Blakeman said it would have to follow set guidelines.

“We would need to adapt formal language and lay out the intent of the moratorium before it can be presented,” Blakeman said. “There is a formal process to this that must be followed.”