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Storm brewing over planned wind farm

MACON COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – Construction started on a new wind farm in the area, but not everyone’s happy about the new addition to their neighborhood and they’re fighting back.

If you’re traveling through Maroa, you might notice a few changes; a sea of wind turbines is slowly emerging in the fields. While it’s a dream come true for some, others say it’s a nightmare.

“I’m not happy. Frankly, disappointed. I’m not going to be able to sit out on my front porch and see 50 of these lights blinking from the towers at night.”

Allan Harris has lived here for nearly three decades. He says it’s hard to watch the place he calls home become a wind farm of nearly 200 turbines.

“That’s not attractive. Nobody wants that.”

That’s why he and three dozen residents filed a lawsuit arguing they were left out of the county board’s process and were alerted about the project when it was too late.

“Had we had the notice, we might have been able to prepare.”

The board disagrees stating information was readily available, but Harris says more should have been done.

“I’m not pleased. There are a number of issues that I’m afraid the county residents aren’t aware of.”

He and his fellow plaintiffs say they’re most concerned about health issues and declining property tax values.

“That’s a valid concern and when you bring something like that, that’s definitely a con in my position.”

Newly elected Mayor Aaron Meador says he understands the frustrations but sees real value in the project.

“I’m only hearing positive things. I’m looking at the benefits of it. They’re going to help the township out.”

The wind farm will employ dozens of people and bring the county millions in revenue. It’s something Harris says sounds good when you’re not losing money in exchange.

“The county board members don’t have to live here.”

The first hearing for the case is June 27. The wind farm company, E.ON, is working under the risk it could be forced to tear the turbines down if residents win their case.