The Livingston County Board this week rejected a proposed wind farm in the southern part of the county, a month after the board deadlocked on the issue.
On Thursday, the board voted 13-9 against the project southeast of Pontiac, proposed by Chicago-based Invenergy. The Pleasant Ridge project would have included up to 136 turbines.
Invenergy said it had a 90-day window to appeal the decision and would consider all of its options, the company said Friday.
“We are disappointed by (Thursday’s) vote,” Invenergy said in an email. “It’s unfortunate that expert evidence from the board’s witnesses and ours was ignored.”
At the board’s June meeting, Chairman Marty Fannin voted in favor of the project. The next day, he told a radio station that he voted the wrong way because of the confusing way in which the motion was worded. The board voted 12-12.
Calling for a new vote Thursday, Fannin joined the majority in opposing the wind farm. Two members were absent.
Years ago, wind farm proposals would sail through the approval process with little, if any, opposition. Those days are over. Now, it often takes dozens of meetings for zoning boards to hear from both sides. Opponents around Illinois have become better organized. In the local case, Pleasant Ridge critics developed a full-blown website to counter Invenergy’s proposal.
Opponents of wind farms argue that they create noise and shadow flicker and hurt property values of nearby homes. Proponents, meanwhile, tout their economic benefits.
On Monday, more than three dozen people gathered at the Forrest Township Library to express their support for the Pleasant Ridge project, according to an Invenergy news release. The company said the wind farm would generate $20 million in annual economic output, 300 new jobs during construction and nearly 100 long-term jobs after the turbines are built.
The village of Forrest was looking forward to the revenue from the wind farm, hoping the new tax revenue would help pay for a water system that would replace one built in the 1930s.
According to an Invenergy news release, revenue from the turbines would help close a $2.5 million budget deficit at Prairie Central School District in the first year of operation.
The United Citizens of Livingston County, which opposed the project, countered that the amount of tax revenue for Prairie Central would decline over time and would only constitute a small fraction of the school district’s budget anyway.
The Livingston Board voted to deny the Pleasant Ridge wind farm application. Here’s how members voted:
For: Jason Bunting, Bob Weller, John Vietti, David Heath, Joe Steichen, Mike Ingles, Bob Young, Ron Kestner and Bill Peterson.
Against: Kathy Arbogast, Justin Goembel, Jim Carley, Mark Runyon, Daryl Holt, Stanley Weber, Kelly Cohlman, Tim Shafer, Paul Ritter, Carolyn Gerwin, Bill Flott, Vicki Allen and Marty Falllin.
Absent: Bill Mays and John Yoder.
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