PONTIAC – The public has played a big part in the hearings for wind farms, around Livingston County.
“We don’t want to shut anyone off, hope we haven’t yet. We don’t intend to,” said Bob Young, vice chairman of the Livingston County Board. “We want everything out, try to be as honest as we can be.”
For months, the debate has raged on: Is it worthwhile to add 136 wind turbines all over the county, which would nearly double the current total?
“There’ve been, like you said four or five meetings (normally) but this one there’s a lot of emotion,” explained Young.
That emotion is coming from both sides,but Invenergy, the company that’s looking to get the permits, does not consider the three hours per, three times a week meetings as an unnecessary evil.
“The more people know about the benefits, you know, of hosting a wind energy facility, with the economic infusion it brings through tax revenue and jobs, the better,” said Kevin Parzyck, Invenergy’s Vice President of Business Development.
Signs are up all over town, with people who are not blown away by the proposal. Many have said it could disrupt their way of life.
“They’re concerned about the market value of their homes, they’re concerned about health issues, wind noise, and they’re very sincere,” said Young.
Invenergy says it will continue to bring in experts to help soothe whatever issues the public may be facing.
“I think it’s been a very fair discussion,” said Parzyck. “There are disagreements, but it’s in no way hostile. I think it’s a very constructive discussion.”
And one that could have maybe 11 more hearings before the process is over. The first will be Monday at Pontiac Township High School. The rest will be at the Walton Center in Fairbury.
Once these hearings are finished, the zoning board of appeals will make its recommendation to the county board. For the time being, the county won’t allow anyone else to apply for permits, until at least June.