Whitney Hill and Sugar Creek road use agreements ready
Sugar Creek to aid Fifth Street redevelopment

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[April 13, 2019] 


At the Logan County Board Workshop on Thursday, April 11, the board heard updates on the road use agreements for both the Whitney Hill and Sugar Creek Wind Farm Projects. Attorney Sheryl Churney, who provided legal counsel for the agreement, shared some of the details of the agreement with the board.

Board member Chuck Ruben said the board had a few concerns over the last road use agreement for HillTopper since they did not have enough penalties in the agreement to provide enforcement for fixing problems, and he asked if this agreement addressed that.

Churney said this road use agreement is similar to the HillTopper road use agreement, which provided the model for both new agreements, but they have definitely learned from some experiences at the HillTopper project. She said in each county in the state of Illinois that has a wind farm, they learn something once they do the project.

In the road use agreement for both Whitney Hill and Sugar Creek, Churney said they have added fines for any traffic control deficiencies. This provision relates to how traffic is handled on site. The company is obligated to let someone know when there is a problem with the road which needs to be fixed and depending on the severity, they have anywhere from a half-hour to twelve hours to address the issue. If the problem is not addressed, a fine of $2,500 can be assessed.

Ruben asked if the County Highway Engineer would make that determination.

Churney said either the County Highway Engineer or consultants that are helping oversee the project would make the determination.

Steel-tracked equipment was doing particular damage to roads near HillTopper, so Churney said these agreements now have a provision about protecting the roads when steel-tracked equipment is going to be crossing the road.

Churney said something else that came up that the County Board has included in the conditional use permits has to do with nighttime construction activities. The road agreement says that overweight and oversized vehicles cannot use the roads after daylight hours, which creates confusion about what can be done after daylight hours.

Both agreements would allow construction vehicles that are not overweight or oversized to use the local roads between sunset and sunrise if the vehicles are being used for the pouring of the tower foundation, erection of tower sections, placement of nacelles and blades on a tower, performing maintenance inspections, preparing for next day construction activity, or repairing equipment. Churney said this language reflects what is in the conditional use permit.

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Board member Bob Sanders said it sounds like the company can do about anything they want during those hours and feels the agreement does not restrict much.

Ruben said when discussing the conditional use permit, some of the activities cannot be controlled anyway, so the thought is to get the trucks in, get the work done, and get them out.

Churney said the financial compensation will be the same for Whitney Hill as it was with HillTopper.

Additional provisions in the Sugar Creek Road Use Agreement

Churney said the Sugar Creek compensation is different because one of the roads in the footprint of the Sugar Creek Wind Farm project is Fifth Street Road.

One goal of the county is to realign and improve that road, and Churney said the county will take over jurisdiction of the road from West Lincoln Township and Sheridan Township.

Churney said money has been a problem [with the county being able to construct the Fifth Street Road project]. However, working collaboratively to reach the goal of realigning and improving the road, and allowing the developer to use the road for their construction, is what was discussed; there is not much point in making pre-construction improvements to the road.

The preference is that the county would save the developer the money needed for making pre-construction road improvements. If the developer provides that money to go into the county’s pot, at the end of the project, the developer can help accomplish the long-term goal the county has had.

Churney said the developer has agreed to these terms, which is why the financial terms for Sugar Creek’s road use agreement are a little different. It is a private and public partnership that would accomplish the goals of both entities.

Logan County Highway Engineer Bret Aukamp said once the wind farm construction is done, the county would hire a contractor to construct the Fifth Street Road project.

When the wind farm construction is complete, Aukamp said the developer will no longer need to use the existing Fifth Street Road. At that point, the County can build the new roadway, which would be wider than the existing road.

At the Regular Board meeting on Tuesday, Road and Bridge Committee Chairman Bob Farmer will bring forward motions for approval of both road use agreements.

[Angela Reiners]

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