From AP - News Headlines -

Zoning Rules for Wind Farms Pass Champaign County Board Committee

Zoning rules for wind turbine farms in Champaign County won the approval of a county board committee Monday night on a 7 to 2 vote.

The Environmental and Land Use Committee endorsed rules regulating large arrays of wind turbines up to 500 feet tall on agricultural land. Currently, Champaign County rules only cover small individual wind turbines or windmills.

Committee members decided to cut the size of the buffer required between wind farms and the nearest dwelling. The proposal called for at least a 1500-foot buffer. But committee Chair Barb Wysocki says a 1200-foot buffer is more common, and preferred by developers. "The developers who were at the meeting admitted that 1500 feet would not necessarily be a deal-breaker," says Wysocki. "But it would encourage them to rethink the configuration of the wind turbines and their placement in Champaign County.

County Planning and Zoning Director John Hall says he's hoping for quick county board approval next month of the wind turbine rules, so that developers already looking to set up wind farms in Champaign County can take quick action.

In the meantime, the wind farm zoning proposal remains with the Environmental and Land Use Committee for public comment. If a local government in the county decides to protest the rules, that would force a super-majority vote on the county board for the proposal to pass --- 21 votes instead of 14.