Horizon Wind Energy is planning to put up 29 wind turbines in Logan
County as part of Railsplitter Wind Farm. Horizon has requested
conditional use of agriculture land for the production of
electricity created by wind turbines.
The measure is set to come to a formal vote on Tuesday evening.
Residential property owners opposing wind farm
Barb Aper, a Logan County resident, questioned who would stand up
for the people who would be living near the wind turbines and didn't
want them. She said named three county board members that she didn't
think would. Chuck Ruben's family stands to gain financially, and
John Stewart works for a company that makes a component for wind
turbines. She said that Dick Logan has made biased statements toward
the group and dismissed a request to table the matter. She felt that
the board was more interested in growth than in their own citizens.
Cheryl Wagner said that the wind turbines threaten home and
property values, health, and a way of life. She charged the board,
"Represent all of us."
Glen Fogler of Emden felt that it was unfair that the people who
live in the footprint of the wind farm should have to bear the
burden of the project. They would be looking at the site of an
industrial power plant. "The least amount of fairness to us is the
property value guaranty plan," he said.
Attorney Rick Porter, who represents those in opposition to the
wind farm, read a list of about a dozen names that had hired him.
The residents would be living in the footprint of the wind farm.
He said that the projected sound created by the turbines, using
plus or minus 3 percent error, would violate the decibel limits set
by the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
More importantly, Porter said that his clients are concerned with
their property investment. He urged the board to pass the
conditional use request only if it would have a property value
guaranty from Horizon Wind energy for the residents.
The proposed property value guaranty offers a couple of
variations of inclusion. Additionally, the options that they are
asking Horizon to make to qualifying homeowners would only be
offered for a limited time.
"Each turbine is $2 million (cost to build). This is a $200
million project. You could buy all of my clients' properties for
less than the cost of one turbine," Porter said.
He concluded by saying that if the board would decide not to
include a property value guaranty, his clients would be forced to
move on and pursue a legal path where he would prove that the wind
farm is not a conditional use of agricultural zoning. "This is a
zoning change. You are changing this to an industrial area," he
Endorsements for the wind farm
Cheryl Baker recalled how the land in the area has evolved since
1849, changing from prairie grass to agriculture and some mining.
There were many changes, including the addition of roads and cell
towers, all in the name of progress.
It is a small amount, less than 2 percent of the land, that would
be used by the towers, she said.
"Farmers care for the land. They care for their neighbors and
families, their schools, their close-knit community, cities, and the
environment. We can use a perfect commodity that God gave us to
create electricity to help the USA and the world," she said
Brent Hellman, who farms in both Logan and Tazewell counties,
said that his property would be affected in several ways with this
project, but that there are changes and adjustments that you can
make to help make this work.
He sees a couple of important benefits. One would be the taxes
generated that would go to the county, school, road and fire
districts. Logan County's tax base is agricultural, and this is a
way to diversify our tax base, he said.
Another benefit would be the green energy provided, no use of
fossil fuels and no leftover wastes, he said.
[to top of second column]
Bob Pharis said that he is a Logan County Farm Bureau board member.
The bureau participates in local and federal policies and has
followed all the hearings. The bureau supports an alternative source
of energy that does not rely on fossil fuel or make a bigger
footprint or create landfills.
Pharis said that the bureau has researched where other projects
have gone and "at no time seen property get cheaper because it was
in this program. We did not see a reduction of land value or
Frank Miles, attorney for Horizon Wind Energy, gave a brief
overview of what has taken place. He said that this part, the public
hearings, is the shortest part of a lengthy process that they go
through in developing a site.
Horizon began in Logan County in the summer of 2005 by measuring
wind and looking where it would be most effective to place turbines.
Public, state and federal government interest was high in
developing renewable energy, such as wind energy.
They began making contact with the local agricultural community
and began working with them and the township and county officials on
possible infrastructure improvements.
They developed Twin Groves near Bloomington first. People were
invited to come look at what was done there.
While these processes were taking place, the county adopted a
wind farm ordinance, which was in context of the county
Horizon's request is consistent with the county's wind farm
ordinance, agricultural zoning law and conditional use.
He noted that Tazewell County has approved special or conditional
use of agricultural land for their portion of the Railsplitter Wind
(--End public comments)
It was noted during the testimony that it is residents of five or
six places that would be within the proximity of the turbines'
"footprint" who are opposing the wind farm.
Dick Logan, country board chairman, said, "I represent 31,183
people of Logan County, not just one or two groups with special
He said that he does not have the time to sit in front of his
computer all day and respond to e-mails. He said, "I'm available
over 50 hours a week at my business," Dick Logan Auto Care,
"I've never refused my entire time on the Logan County Board to
talk to you (the public) on any side of any issue," Logan said. "I
will listen to you, I have listened to you. Not very many are
opposed to this, but most of you are wanting this in Logan County.
So don't say I'm not available or turned you down or not listening,
because all you had to do was call. Your personal call would have
meant a lot to me."
A straw vote indicated the wind farm's request for conditional
use of agriculture land for the production of electricity created by
wind turbines would pass on Tuesday evening.
There were 10 voting yes, and two abstained: Chuck Ruben and John
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
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