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Public hearing to analyze wind farm policy

BLOOMINGTON – McLean County residents will get another chance this week to hear and be heard about a new local wind farm policy.

Three months after county board members rejected the policy due to a lack of transparency, the Zoning Board of Appeals will host a public hearing on it at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 400 at the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St.

“This time we published (notices) in different papers in the community and notified all the township superintendents and municipal mayors or presidents,” said County Building and Zoning Director Phil Dick.

The board requested those notifications when it sent the policy back to the ZBA on July 19.

Dick said then that his office had met its statutory requirement by publishing a legal notice about a June public hearing in The Pantagraph.

The policy includes a detailed decommissioning plan and adherence to specified heights and noise levels.

Board member Catherine Metsker said she favors much stricter regulations that Dick said “might be making it so you can’t have turbines in the county.” But other board members said the public should have a chance to discuss them.

Metsker also criticized county officials for seeking feedback from the McLean County Farm Bureau and companies developing local wind farms rather than an agency that represents the public.

“We include people who have economic interest,” Dick said.

Anna Ziegler, assistant manager at the farm bureau, said, “Many of the things in our proposed text were imposed by the Zoning Board in previous special use permits” but aren’t included in the current county ordinance.

Officials hope to pass the policy before two developers working in northeast McLean County file county paperwork.

Dick said Friday he expects a filing soon from either EDP Renewables or Invenergy, which are vying for land in Chenoa, Lawndale, Lexington and Yates townships to build a wind farm there.

Metsker also complained about “the lack of openness” of Dick’s office about wind farm projects. Because the office doesn’t release information about potential construction until paperwork is filed, Metsker filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out about discussions with EDP and Invenergy.