From WILL - News Headlines -

Champaign County ZBA Votes Against Wind Farm Request

The Champaign County Board will begin discussion of a permit for the Invenergy wind farm at committee meeting next month, but the county's Zoning Board of Appeals says the permit request should be denied.

On Thursday night, the ZBA voted 5-to-2 last night against the Invenergy project, citing concerns about noise pollution, and disagreement over how to handle the cost of decommissioning the turbines when they're no longer useful.

The Champaign County Board will have to reverse the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals if it wants to locate a wind farm in the northeast part of the county. Board members cited concerns with the Chicago company's standards for noise pollution impacting the yard of a rural resident. County Planning and Zoning Director John Hall said the company's standards for noise don't comply with those of the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

"This is regarding whether the noise standard applies just at the line of the dwelling, or in the yard outside of the dwelling," Hall said. "It's that simple. Why would have a residential noise standard that only applies inside the dwelling? "

If the permit were approved, and Invenergy went bankrupt in 10 years, Hall said he is afraid no financial lien holder would step in at that point, meaning Champaign County may have to find more money to decommission the wind farm.

Marvin Johnson, who is the highway commissioner of Champaign County's Compromise Township, said he supports the plan. According to Johnson, the township's road agreement with Invenergy would bring substantial upgrades to a 14-mile stretch of road.

"Tremendous benefits to the road district," Johnson said. "Upgrading of roads, financial assistance, things that in our small district, we've probably never be able to come up with. That's why I'm in favor of it."

Despite the ZBA's vote, the Champaign County Board has the final say. Board Democrat Alan Kurtz said the county can't afford not to come to a compromise with Invenergy.

"Our county needs the revenue," he said. "Our county needs clean, renewable energy. Our county needs safe wind farm turbines. This is my opinion, but I personally feel that we need to follow the ordinance. But I think that there are ways that we can always work around any considerable problems."

Kurtz said Invenergy has 'bent over backwards' to comply with what he calls one of the most stringent county wind ordinances in the state.

The Champaign County Board will first take up the proposal at the Nov. 1 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Invenergy was expected to start initial work on 100 turbines in Vermilion County this week. Champaign County's portion of the project would involve 39 turbines.