Seats were hard to come by at the Grundy County Courthouse on Monday morning as more than 50 people filed in to a courtroom to express their opinions on the Ivester Wind Farm during a public hearing on the matter. After almost an hour and a half of arguments both for and against the project, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a rezoning application from EDF Renewable Energy that will allow 45 wind turbines to be built across over 4,000 acres of farmland in west central Grundy County.
For the second time in the last three years, the decision from the supervisors will supersede an earlier ruling from the Grundy County Planning and Zoning Commission: that board voted 6-0 in February to deny the application, and chairman Duane Dirks told The Grundy Register that protecting the fertile soil of Grundy County from non-agricultural development was his chief concern. In 2013, the commission voted against allowing the construction of a wind farm near Wellsburg before the Board of Supervisors, with all of the same members who are currently serving, eventually overrode them.
On Monday morning, 14 people (including five representatives from EDF) spoke in favor of the project, and 11 spoke against it. County Auditor Rhonda Deters read 14 letters supporting the wind farm and five opposing it, and Supervisor Jim Ross recused himself from voting because he owns land in the proposed wind farm area. Those in favor, many of whom owned land that would be rezoned as part of the project, shared similar refrains about private property rights, the need for other sources of income (affected farmers are projected to receive a total of around $500,000 per year in payments), the long term increase in tax revenues for the county and the prevalence of other large scale industrial projects such as hog confinements and cattle lots.
“Since we live in the U.S.A., we as individuals are free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said meeting attendee Eric Boykin. “If you don’t want to participate, don’t participate, but you shouldn’t take away others’ rights to establish a turbine on their property.”
Read the rest of the story in this week’s Grundy Register.
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