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DeWitt County wind farm vote set for Tuesday

CLINTON – A final decision on a proposed wind farm is expected Tuesday night, when the DeWitt County Board will meet on the Square in Clinton to decide the fate of the Alta Farms II wind project.

It will be the second time for the board to consider the project. The 12-member panel denied the special use permit application from Tradewind Energy in April 2019, saying it left too many unanswered questions and wasn’t complete.

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Tradewind Energy revamped the application and resubmitted it last year. The total cost of the project is estimated to be close to $300 million and is projected to add 66 turbines up to 599 feet tall in northwestern DeWitt County.

In submitting the plan, Tradewind officials said the second permit included nearly a year’s worth of additional development activities such as engineering work on the wind farm design and public road improvements, final geotechnical work and landowner approval of the site plan.

“Alta Farms has enjoyed significant community support since it was initially proposed nearly 10 years ago, and we are excited to make our final case to the County Board Tuesday evening,” said Tom Swierczewski, lead developer of the project. “We remain confident that we have developed a first-rate wind farm that meets or exceeds all of DeWitt County’s requirements and look forward to putting hundreds of people to work.”

The county board is expecting a large crowd for the event, including many who oppose the project.

“The ZBA has made a strong recommendation to the board that this application should be denied for a variety of reasons, and the community has made it clear this project is not a good fit,” said Andrea Rhoades, of rural DeWitt County. “I hope the board makes the right call and denies this application.”

The board held off on a vote last month because not all board members could meet in the same room, due to social distancing regulations. Because the state is in Phase 4 of the recovery plan, the board decided to have the meeting outdoors, and will be allowing the developers and the opponents limited time to present arguments prior to the vote. Swierczewski will speak for the company while Rhoades is one of nine people signed up in opposition of the wind farm.

The Square will be shut off to traffic at 5:30 p.m. and parking will be available in the First Christian Church and State Bank of Lincoln parking lots. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.