CAMBRIDGE – Henry County is getting another wind farm.
Despite some opposition, the county board voted 12-4 Thursday night to approve Avangrid’s special use permits for 40 turbines between Kewanee, Galva and Cambridge, known as the Midland wind farm. Voting no were Kathy Nelson, Bill Preston, Dwayne Anderson and Ted Sturtevant. Lynn Sutton and Kippy Breeden abstained as they own property in the proposed project area.
Six or seven opponents of the wind farm attended the meeting. Their stated concerns were the land is in a migratory bird route, that it has native American trails and prehistoric artifacts and that timber would be destroyed. Others mentioned concerns about noise and flicker.
Linda Grant, who talked about the area bordered by Illinois 81 and 78, Tower Road and 1200 Avenue, asked the county to consider delaying the vote for 90 days to give other organizations time to gather their input.
Henry County State’s Attorney Matt Schutte said if the county did not have a decision by the second meeting after the zoning board met, which would be January, the permits would be considered denied.
A motion to postpone the vote until the board’s January meeting failed 7-9.
Galva and Kewanee school superintendents said the wind farm would lessen the financial burden on local taxpayers. Galva’s Doug O’Riley said under the new funding formula, any local taxes do not lessen the amount of state aid received up until a district achieves adequate funding, and his district is only at 73 percent of adequate funding.
Burns Township Road Commissioner Shawn Strand spoke of how beneficial the township’s agreement with Avangrid would be, being a township without a town and with a very low tax base. He talked about how people don’t even notice telephone poles, comparing that to how turbines would fit in with the landscape.
“As a township, we struggle to make ends meet,” he said. “It’s progress just like telephone poles, it’s just the way the world’s going.”
Galva attorney Michael Massie quoted Abraham Lincoln talking about wind as an untamed and unharnessed force in 1858. “He saw the potential; Henry County has seen the potential,” he said.
Bryan Early said wind has proven to be a clean, reliable and efficient source of energy and he refuted the idea that deforestation would happen.
In other business, after approving 13 of 19 special use permits for solar projects since August, the board on Thursday approved eight more special use permits for additional projects. All were two megawatt and ranging from 14 acres to 29 acres. They were located south of Interstate 80 and west of I-74, east of Bishop Hill and on Illinois 6 between Atkinson and Annawan, near the Kewanee hospital and near the Kewanee airport.
Plan/development chairman Lynn Sutton noted that all the community solar projects will be entered in a state lottery, which he said depending on who you talk to will be happening in either January or February.
The county ended its fiscal year on Nov. 30; it was $366,867 in the black after projecting a $9,800 surplus. Finance chairman Loren Rathjen noted the county ended the previous year $334,000 ahead.
Following a closed session, the board voted to approve an agreement with the union representing Hillcrest Home, giving those workers a 2 percent raise each year for three years.
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