The Special Use Conditions for the Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Project have been finalized and released to the public. Drafted by a special committee, the conditions clear up language, names and terminology of Invenergy’s proposal, as well as attempt to mollify concerned parties over some of the potential environmental and health issues.
After the motion to deny the application per the Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation was voted down at the June County Board meeting, a second, contingency motion passed which allowed for a committee to review the application.
The committee, chaired by County Board Chairman Marty Fannin, then drafted special use considerations in response to the ZBA’s findings. It also considered recommendations from other board members and the public.
Other members of the subcommittee included board members Bill Flott and Bob Young, Alina Hartley in her capacity as the board’s Resource Specialist, and attorneys Jim Griffin and Tom Blakeman.
Flott, who chairs the Agriculture and Zoning Committee, discussed the Special Use Conditions draft in an interview Tuesday afternoon. He began by laying out the processes that went into the creation of the document.
“The wind energy company filed an application a few years ago, and that was the subject of all the 30 or so hearings,” he said. “They probably had some written conditions that we applied to other projects from years back, so they probably had an idea of the conditions we would impose.
“However, the conditions that were imposed on previous projects were, to my knowledge, never discussed with Invenergy … but they knew of what we’d requested of other projects. For the most part, that’s what the conditions (we drafted) are: they are changed to fit this project.
“Primarily, it’s changes in the language; instead of saying Cayuga Ridge, for example, it refers to Pleasant Ridge and the different company.”
Flott pointed out, however, that there were provisional “additions” in the draft for the specific purposes of the Pleasant Ridge Application.
For example, Item 12 of the conditions draft, titled “Wildlife Monitoring,” charges Invenergy with tracking deaths of birds and bats, and says that “if during operation of the Project, the Company or County Board identifies any significant wildlife kills … Company shall investigate and mitigate such harm to the reasonable satisfaction of the County Board.”
“It’s an addition,” Flott said. “It’s one that’s new for this project because of the location of where this project is, compared to where another project might have been.”
Another significant addition is Item 19, titled “Noise Reduction and Monitoring.” One of the major rallying points of resistance to wind farms concerns the noise generated by turbines, and the adverse health effects that they allegedly cause.
“We’re requesting that the company do actual noise testing at the site,” Flott said. “Previously, our noise conditions only dealt with simulated noise. In other words, it was done mathematically what the noise would be at each ‘receptor’ – another word for house.”
With the drafted provisos, the County Board will again vote on Invenergy’s application at its next meeting. Flott hoped that the subcommittee had created a draft that was “fair.”
He mentioned, however, that should the application be denied at the meeting, the Special Use Conditions could still act as a template for future applications from Invenergy or other wind energy companies. He also said that it was possible for Invenergy to reject the new conditions laid out for the company, and withdraw its application.
Nevertheless, the special use conditions for Invenergy’s application will go before the County Board on July 16, with its monthly meeting being held at Pontiac Township High School at 6 p.m.
The conditions, titled “Draft Special Use Conditions for Consideration July 16, 2015,” are available for public viewing at the following web page: http://www.livingstoncounty-il.org/wordpress/county-services/zoning-and-planning/wind-energy-projects/