This was actually the ninth hearing on a request for conditional use
of land for wind turbines, but the first two hearings didn't count
due to an error in notifying some of the adjacent property owners.
Horizon Wind Energy would be installing 29 wind turbines in Logan
County as part of Rail Splitter Wind Farm. Another 38 turbines would
go up on adjacent land in Tazewell County.
The Tazewell County
Zoning Board of Appeals approved the towers in June.
About 175 citizens attended the sixth of the long hearings on
Tuesday evening. It took 2 1/2 hours, but everyone who had not
spoken in the past was given opportunity to speak for the record.
Those in favor spoke mostly of the economic benefits to the area.
There was also some mention that it would meet our society's need
for electricity as a nonpolluting, renewable resource.
Those opposed were mostly concerned about land values, visual and
sound intrusion that would alter the quality of life, and possible
About 40 citizens were present for the closing hearing and
decision on Wednesday evening.
Thompson said, "We're here to look at the wind farm application
and how it does or does not meet conditional use guidelines, and the
specifics of the zoning ordinance as it applies to the wind
The board then began going through the application, measuring
against each of the five conditional use criteria points. They
reviewed the evidence that had been presented, occasionally adding
investigation they had done on their own. The first two points were
discussed more, as they covered the major concerns. The remaining
three points were of lesser concern and would be covered by
agreements and through state and federal permitting processes.
The five members of the appeals board were all present: Rick
Sheley, Marvin Johnson, Wilbur Paulus, Dean Toohey and Thompson, the
chairman. They worked through the five points of the conditional use
criteria specifically applying to the wind farm.
They considered if the turbines would cause problems for people
living within range of the turbines:
1. In matters of health, safety, morals or general welfare.
It was observed
that professional engineers would ensure design safety of the
the noise concern into the discussion. He recalled that the lawyers
debated about equally on this matter.
So, he did some
research. He went to the Illinois Pollution Control Board site,
"Of the 265 noise complaints that they show on their website, there
was not one of those involving wind farms," he said. "Seems to me
that if wind farms were truly a problem with noise, somebody would
have filed a complaint."
fences are on a list of 18 items that were added to this particular
conditional use application.
Paulus said that
everyone would be affected to some degree, but he did not think
there would be significant impact to the general welfare.
2. If turbines could be injurious to the use and enjoyment of the
property already permitted in the area or substantially diminish
Paulus said they
had heard conflicting reports from experts, particularly noting the
Bingham Road property where the elevated sale price that the people
asked for was not realistic. "True value is when property is sold,
and that's when it's tested," he said.
[to top of second column]
Sheley wasn't sure if property values would diminish. He recalled
that there was a "neighbor agreement" being offered to those in the
footprint that would give them something like $1,000 a year, which
when summed up in years amounts to quite a bit of money. He thought
that the annual stipend might be enticing to would-be buyers, so
there might not be any diminishing property value.
He noted that
whether residents wanted the turbines or didn't want the turbines,
they all held the same opinion; they like the peace and solidarity
of country lots, and didn't want more people moving out next to
them. "So, on the one hand you've got, 'I don't want them to move
here; property values would go down.' And, on the other hand
nobody's going to move here except for windmills," he observed.
Thompson noted that
the area is zoned as agricultural. Agriculture would have minimal
impact; not much land would be taken out of production.
provided by the opponents were from multiple states. They indicated
an average drop of $42,752 on a residence and $500 on land values.
requested to have a "property value protection" clause added.
Johnson thought it
would be difficult to get a handle on this. "Right now there's a 15
percent drop in the economy," he said. "How would you even run a
survey on it and know whether it's accurate or not? There's a lot of
things that go into that."
the way people take care of them (properties) and more, Thompson and
Johnson jointly said.
Thompson said he
tried to find an example where property protection had been added
for a wind farm area. He found only one place, and it began in
discussions but appeared to be dropped and never implemented.
3. If the farm would impede future development of surrounding
It is an
Any future rezoning
requests would come before the zoning board.
4. That adequate infrastructure and necessary facilities would be
Covered in attached
list of agreements.
5. That there was an adequate traffic plan that would allow
landowners and residents access to their property during the
A plan has been
drafted. There would be some inconvenience.
In all five criteria, board members agreed unanimously, "yes."
Their recommendation to allow conditional use of the properties
included an attachment of 18 structural, safety and infrastructure
concerns, permit requirements, and agreements. Approval was subject
to meeting all of the 18 items.
The matter now moves forward to the Logan County Board for
possible approval on July 15.
Following the hearing, opponents met together and spoke of taking
the matter to the courts to try to stop the project.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
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