One of the most crucial details in the county allowing Horizon's plan is the County Road Upgrade and Maintenance Agreement. Aukamp has been working with Horizon representatives since the project's inception to ensure county roads will be in better condition after construction of the wind turbines.
He approached the road and bridge committee first about establishing the agreement in March and has made clear to public officials the importance of making sure county roads are protected.
This agreement outlines both Horizon's financial and physical responsibilities, where county roads are concerned.
Nearly 20 people filled a meeting room to voice their opinions about ordinances governing wind farms at a meeting of the Ford County Board's Environmental Committee on Thursday night.
"We're not here to stop wind farms by any means, but to protect homeowners from towers right next to their houses," said committee Chairman Gene May of Paxton. ...City Attorney Bob Martensen of Paxton said legislation adopted in August 2007 is confusing to many. His opinion is that the law allows concurrent jurisdiction by the city and county for a 1.5-mile radius around a municipality. Developers would then have to comply with whichever code is most restrictive.
He said his recommendation would be that the Paxton City Council members prohibit wind farms within a 1-mile radius of city limits. "If we expect the city to grow we have to have reasonable setbacks," he said, adding the council has not yet considered action on the issue.
And on and on it goes.
Despite testimony and public comment beyond 10:30 p.m. Thursday, the Logan County Zoning Board of Appeals' hearings on wind turbine construction are still not complete.
Rick Porter, attorney for Union Ridge Wind, presented testimony from appraiser Steve McCann at the ZBA hearings Thursday at Hartsburg-Emden High School. ...McCann said all of Porter's clients were located in the footprint of the Rail Splitter project, which means they have properties likely to be encompassed on multiple sides by the 400-foot tall structures.
McCann stated in other situations he has experienced, companies erecting structures in close proximity to residences have either offered a property value guarantee or have simply bought out the effected properties.
Both opponents and supporters of Horizon Wind Energy's plan to erect 29 wind turbines in northern Logan County soon will have the opportunity to voice their opinions - possibly tonight, but most likely on Tuesday evening.
A public forum was set for 7:30 p.m. at Hartsburg-Emden High School tonight and was supposed to be the last step in the Logan County Zoning Board of Appeals' process before making a recommendation to the full county board. ...Residents interested in voicing their concerns either for the construction, or against it, are encouraged to attend tonight's meeting.
Ultralight aircraft and wind farms were the focus of residents with their eye on a massive overhaul of Boone County zoning rules Wednesday.
As proposed, the new zoning laws could get ultralights back in the air in Boone County and would set a precedent for wind farms, which previously lacked detailed guidelines. ...An original proposal set the distance at 2,000 feet from property lines and occupied dwellings.
But some believe that distance would make it nearly impossible for anyone to set up a wind turbine operation. The code now calls for 1,000 foot setbacks from homes and 1.1 times the height of the tower from property lines.
Since Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy has proposed putting up 29 wind turbines in Logan County, along with 37 turbines in Tazewell County, many arguments have surfaced regarding whether the construction might have a negative impact on some local residents. ...The first zoning board of appeals' public hearing will be Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Hartsburg-Emden High School gymnasium, where Horizon will present its testimony and call witnesses in support of its evidence.
Porter will call his witnesses and cross-examine Horizon's testimony at a zoning board of appeals meeting, which will follow Horizon's on a separate day.
"We have hired an appraiser, Michael McCann, who has done a study specific to the proposed Logan County Turbine Facility. Mr. McCann has extensive experience with valuing affects of proposed projects on nearby properties," said Porter. "Unlike Mr. Poletti, Mr. McCann has no pre-study biases that impact his decisions.
Construction of the EcoGrove wind farm in rural Stephenson County started last week. ...As this project gears up, EcoEnergy is investigating possible expansion and Phase II — into Jo Daviess County.
“That’s in the feasibility stage,” Rigas said.
Expansion plans may include property just across the Stephenson County line, adjacent to the site.
“We’re talking to property owners there,” Rigas said. “If we’re successful and the county supports the project, (it) would be ... constructed next year.”
The Logan County Regional Planning Commission placed its seal of approval on a land use zoning request that would allow 29 wind turbines to be built in northern Logan County. ...Commission member Dave Evans asked Logan County zoning officer Will D'Andrea about a letter received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
D'Andrea said that the IDNR would require the company to have studies performed that would measure and monitor pre- and post-construction, observing any change in wildlife habitat, presence of certain species and impact studies. The results of those studies could lead to the company's construction times working around mating seasons or migratory patterns.
While the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals was approving a proposed wind farm Wednesday, dealing a blow to opponents who hoped to stop the project, the hearing process on the project in Logan County was just restarting.
The Logan County Regional Planning Commission, repeating an action it had taken earlier, recommended the approval of a conditional-use permit for the construction of 29 wind turbines in the northern part of the county. ...Meanwhile, at the Pekin zoning board of appeals hearing, some Tazewell County residents were equally disgruntled with that board's decision.
"Obviously, we're not happy with it," said Delavan resident Beverly Egli, whose home will be surrounded by wind towers in the Rail Splitter Wind Farm.
The Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals approved a proposed wind farm Wednesday, dealing a blow to opponents who hoped to stop the project.
"Obviously, we're not happy with it," said Delavan resident Beverly Egli, whose home will be surrounded by wind towers in the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC.
The board deliberated for three hours before unanimously approving special use permits for the project that will cover more than 11,000 acres of farmland straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155.
One of the two wind-energy companies interested in bringing 180 turbines to Ford County has secured long-term leases with landowners for about 2,400 acres of farmland east of Paxton.
"We have signed over 2,400 acres and expect another 2,000 in the next two or three weeks," said Joe Borkowski, development manager for E.On Climate & Renewables, which is targeting the east side of Paxton for the development of 100 wind turbines.
Erecting wind turbines in Tazewell and Logan Counties is being met with some resistance.
But Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals votes to give the wind farm company a special usage permit.
After more than two hours of deliberation the seven-member board voted to give Horizon, the energy company, the permits for the wind farm under myriad conditions.
Two main issues of concern for board members was the problem concerning noise and property values.
Horizon Wind Energy and its opponents are back for Round 2.
An announcement in The Courier Monday from the Logan County Regional Planning Commission notified property owners of the second round of hearings on the proposed Rail Splitter Wind Farm.
Horizon is reapplying for conditional use permits to begin construction of the 29 wind turbines in northern Logan County near the Hartsburg area. ...Phil Mahler, Logan County's regional planner, said the county was extra vigilant in making sure all property owners involved were notified, so the process could continue without any glitches.
"Generally everyone was pretty happy about the message that we were able to get out," he said Friday about the show of force, adding the project's future still appeared uncertain.
In the past, Chairman John Krug barred people from speaking on the wind farm for fear of litigation and having to start the entire ZBA process over again because the project had gone through the county's zoning process and not yet formally come before the board. That restriction was loosened Thursday.
El Paso Mayor Herb Arbuckle said the meeting led him to lose confidence in the board. He said he feels he must monitor its actions and those of its committees.
"I plan on making every meeting I can possibly make," he said.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently approved an expansion of the Freeport/Stephenson County Enterprise Zone to support the 100-megawatt EcoGrove Wind LLC wind farm proposed for northwest of Lena.
In March, the Stephenson County Board approved the enterprise-zone extension, but the state's final approval of the initiative marks a milestone for the EcoGrove project, said Shawn Gaffney, president of EcoEnergy LLC, the company that will build the EcoGrove farm. Freeport-based EcoEnergy is a division of The Morse Group.
"It was critical to the project," Gaffney said of the state's approval of the e-zone extension. "That's really the last big hurdle we had to move forward on the project."
It took three hours Thursday night in a crowded school gymnasium for the Woodford County Board to postpone action on the controversial El Paso Wind Farm until its July meeting.
"The actions that I've witnessed here tonight make me sick to my stomach," El Paso Mayor Herb Arbuckle said to the roar of the crowd.
Arbuckle was among 20 people making public comments to the board after an extended fight between board Chairman John Krug and board member Gary Jones on what agenda the board should be using. ...All this and more occurred before the public input part of the agenda and clearly agitated the approximately 200 people, most opposed to the project, who had been waiting on hard bleacher seats.
Many were opponents who say turbines are unsightly and zoning limits tied to them will hamper economic development.
"Look me in the eye and tell me you don't value my quality of life," Don Kingdon, former El Paso school board member, told the board. "Do you believe you have the right to take away my lifestyle? How many businesses will not come to El Paso when you put me in the shadow of those blades?"
Board member Thomas Janssen said he will insist that no towers be within 1.5 miles of El Paso.
The wind in woodford county is causing quite a stir these days.
"In a small community it's the highlight of the year," said John Krug, Woodford County Board Chairman.
It all revolves around a special use permit before the Woodford County board that could allow a 40 turbine wind farm near Route 24 outside El Paso.
"We're going to hear a lot of things from a lot of people, at some point the county board will be voting yes or no on the special use permit for the El Paso wind farm," said Krug.
Those opposed to the El Paso wind farm say it brings up economic, quality of life and environmental issues.
Taylor's attorney, Chris Spanos, argued Tuesday that wind turbines pose health and safety risks. He said wind turbines are inconsistent with an agricultural situation. "Is this consistent with what's already there?" Spanos asked.
While recapping evidence presented during several days of testimony, Spanos pointed out that a few of Horizon's projected noise levels are not in compliance with the Illinois Pollution Control Agency's standards.
"Mr. Taylor has a right to keep those noise levels below, anywhere," said Spanos, who is also representing seven land owners opposed to the erection of the turbines. ...Attorney Frank Miles for Horizon apologized to the ZBA for getting them involved in an anti-wind debate. He began his closing argument by reminding the ZBA that the Tazewell County Board approved of wind power plants in Tazewell when they created an ordinance for the power generating structures.
From a distance they're eye-catching, yet tiny. The closer you get, however, the more imposing the wind turbines in eastern McLean County become.
Wondering how big they are is natural. Bill Whitlock, who works for the company that operates the Twin Groves Wind Farm, knows you're wondering. He believes an open-air visitor's center of sorts, scheduled to open early next month, is the answer. ...With 240 wind turbines, Twin Groves is the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River. It may get even larger.
"We've held preliminary meetings with landowners," Whitlock said, adding the company might seek zoning approval next year for expansion.
A resolution on the El Paso wind farm May 20 brought a crowd that exceeded the 128-person limit allowed by local fire codes.Committees have forwarded three resolutions about the wind farm to the full board, but only one is on the agenda for Thursday. It is labeled "amended (3) final agenda."
It offers the services of the board to serve as a facilitator between Minneapolis-based Navitas and township highway commissioners.