The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 7, 2013

Officials to lead turbine forum

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — A public forum later this month will give wind turbine opponents and proponents a platform upon which to air their views.

Members of the Vermilion County Board Executive Committee heard complaints from three residents as well as county board member Chuck Nesbitt of District 3 and Pilot Township Road Commissioner Roy Knight in February. As a result, the county set up a public forum on turbines for April 15.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the forum is open to anyone with an interest in the wind farms and the county’s existing wind ordinance.

“We’d like to hear from anyone that has an opinion,” he said. “What we’re focused on is to visit the wind ordinance and make sure as it stands it is representative of what we want it to be.”

The public forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 15 at Potomac Grade School in Potomac. Those attending can either voice their opinion at the forum — which will be recorded — or submit comments in writing.

A panel of officials from the county board as well as other entities will receive the opinions and meet during the following week to issue a decision on whether to rework the current wind ordinance or leave it as it stands.

Panel members include county board members Bruce Stark of District 9, Chuck Mockbee of District 2 and John Alexander of District 6, who will chair the panel. Other members include Doug Toole of the county health department, Linda Bolton of Vermilion Advantage, Steve Fourez of the Vermilion County Farm Bureau and Armstrong High School District Superintendent Bill Mulvaney.

“If there are real changes that need to be made, we want to consider that,” Weinard said.

Currently, the county’s wind ordinance calls for a setback of 1,200 feet from the primary structure on a property. Nesbitt, at the February committee meeting, asked for a moratorium on the ordinance and suggested the setback be increased to 1,320 feet from any property line and 2,600 feet from any structure.

Weinard said on Friday that he is in support of the county’s wind ordinance in its present form, describing it as “in the middle of it” between more restrictive and more liberal policies currently in existence.

A spokeswoman for Invenergy LLC indicated that the company plans to have a representative on hand for the public meeting in Potomac.

The Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm permit was approved a year ago this month. The project calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.

In March, ownership of that project was purchased by Apex Wind Energy, Inc., an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Va. The company has not announced any changes or completion timelines for the project.

Weinard confirmed on Friday that a representative from Apex is also expected to attend the public forum.