CLINTON – Critics of a proposed new wind farm northwest of Clinton are welcoming a recommendation by the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals to restrict the height and placement of wind turbines.
The DeWitt County Board is expected to vote April 19 on updating the wind farm ordinance with the proposed changes, which the zoning board approved Monday. The move comes as the county considers a proposal from Trade Winds Energy of Lenexa, Kan., for a project involving 200 landowners scattered across 24,000 acres.
Tom Swierczewski, a Trade Winds development director, previously said construction could start next year and the project could go online in 2020 if the county approves the wind farm. The company has said it would pay an estimated $3 million per year in new property taxes.
But some residents who would live near the project have objected, including Andrea Rhoades, whose rural Kenney home would be near the Trade Winds site.
“I was thrilled with the community turnout in support of these ordinance changes that will better protect the health and safety of residents,” Rhoades said after the meeting Monday. “The unanimous vote by the ZBA to recommend these to the County Board really shows their willingness to listen to the testimony given.”
She was among about 70 people who attended the meeting of the zoning board, which recommended limiting the height of any tower to 499 feet. Currently, there is no set height limit.
The board also called for a minimum distance of 2,000 feet between a tower and the nearest house. The current ordinance requires a setback of 1,500 feet.
Both changes previously were recommended by the Regional Planning Commission.
The zoning board has yet to hear the Trade Winds Energy proposal, which is expected to be presented later this spring.
The proposal joins other wind farm projects in Central Illinois, including 139 turbines west of Maroa in northern Macon County. The wind farm, called Radford’s Run, is operated by E.ON, the American unit of Germany’s largest utility company. Dozens of landowners sued to stop construction, saying they weren’t notified properly during the process.
The Maroa City Council voted last month to keep new turbines from being built within 1.5 miles of the city’s border, a response to interest in a new wind farm east and south of Maroa.
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