Morgan County tentatively is moving forward with the permitting process for the Lincoln Land Wind project, setting a public hearing for Aug. 11.
County officials have been waiting to hold a public hearing for the project since February, when Apex Clean Energy submitted the project for approval.
The public hearing in an important part of the permitting process and something they wanted to do correctly, board Chairman Brad Zeller said.
“We wanted to be able to have a true open meeting,” Zeller said.
The meeting will include a presentation from Apex about the project, explanation of how it complies with county ordinances, and a question-answer session. Community members also will have a chance to comment.
The public hearing would follow all rules and guidelines the county established for public comments, including limiting comments to under five minutes and refraining from using obscene language, Zeller said.
Apex wants to place up to 107 wind turbines on about 36,000 acres of land in the eastern portion of Morgan County. The turbines would produce roughly 303.6 megawatts of energy that would be transferred to existing electricity lines.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hearings have been postponed or moved online, but the board held off on scheduling a public hearing for the Apex project because members wanted to be able to have in-person interaction, Zeller said.
The social-distancing plan for the meeting at this point would allow for up to 50 people in a Morgan County Courthouse courtroom, a call-in option and an overflow room where people could listen and then enter the courtroom briefly to comment or ask a question, Zeller said, adding that details and plans for the meeting could change.
The hearing date is tentative and a notice with all meeting details will be placed in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier 30 days prior to the meeting, Zeller said.
“It seems things will remain this way through the fall at least,” Zeller said, referring to precautions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We don’t know when we would be able to have a true open meeting.”