BLOOMINGTON – In a 16-3 vote Tuesday morning, the McLean County Board granted a special use for a wind farm on almost 5,000 acres in an agricultural district covering the townships of Chenoa, Yates and Lawndale.
The request from Lexington Chenoa Wind Farm LLC by EDP Renewables North America includes land from Old Route 66 to the west and County Highway 13 to the east. The project is known as the Bright Stalk Wind Farm.
District 7 McLean County Board member Jacob Beard presented the final motion with amendments, which include allowing non-participating residents within 2,000 feet the opportunity to have a post-implementation sound study and ensuring there will not be an environmental impact with protected species around the Mackinaw River.
“I felt this was completely within things that were presented in the testimony,” Beard said after the meeting. “It simply assures compliance and hopefully puts folks’ minds at rest who want to make sure that the turbines aren’t too loud and the environmental impact isn’t too great.”
An earlier amendment proposed by District 1 board member Don Cavallini did not pass. Cavallini noted in the many years he has been on the board, there have only been a few issues impacting residents so strongly as the issue considered at this meeting.
Several members of the public addressed the board prior to the wind farm deliberations.
“Invenergy and EDP are not part of this county,” said Kim Brucker. “These companies are coming in and dividing our communities.”
Tim Jolly said he loves living in McLean County but will be expected to live at a minimum distance from a “monstrosity.” Travis Taylor believes the project will impact his home and that the zoning board did not meet the standards of the permit.
Mike Matejka spoke in favor of the EDP project, pointing to several hours of work with other area wind projects which is good for landowners and businesses in his opinion.
“A good job is the best welfare program there is,” Metejka noted.
Amy Winterland felt the hearing process was rushed and said two transcripts are not yet available as public record. She believes several items are not in compliance but are being allowed. Former Prairie Central Superintendent Dr. John Capasso endorsed the project, saying it could bring desperately needed money to add teachers, buses or computer labs.
“We need to consider the financial boon for schools and other taxing bodies in this county,” Capasso said.
Julie Cotter feels the voices of more than 600 in the county are being “put down” and that EDP has not met the burden of proof on many issues.
“This is an emotional situation for those of us impacted.”
The McLean County Board approved another northern McLean County wind farm just last month from Invenergy which will be located around Lexington.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the county board authorized an agreement with Farnsworth for the reconstruction of the intersection of Ireland Grove Road and Towanda Barnes Road. They also approved the bills and emergency appropriations for the general fund and Health Department.