Committee to consider Vermilion wind farm moratorium

DANVILLE — A committee of Vermilion County Board members will discuss this week a moratorium on the construction of any wind farms until the county addresses possible changes to its wind farm ordinance.

According to the county board’s executive and legislative committee agenda, county board member Chuck Nesbitt, R-District 3, is bringing the issue before the county board committee, which meets at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 319 of the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

Nesbitt could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said he has told Nesbitt that he would give him the platform to present information in support of a moratorium. But, Weinard said, he does not support a moratorium and doesn’t see anything wrong with the county’s current wind ordinance.

Weinard said the biggest issue that will come up is setbacks, generally the minimum distance from a property that a wind turbine can be built.

Currently, the county’s ordinance requires a wind turbine to be set back 1,200 feet from the foundation of a “primary structure,” or house. The county’s original ordinance had required only a 1,000-foot setback, but Rankin-area residents Darrell and Kim Cambron lobbied board members to increase the setback and in late 2011, the county board increased the setback by 200 feet.

But Weinard said what may be discussed now is increasing that setback and also requiring that wind turbines be set back a certain distance from a neighbor’s property line, not a primary structure.

Weinard said that type of change could make it very difficult for a wind farm developer to place a pattern of windmills that would be sufficient.

Any proposed changes would only affect any new wind farm developments, and Weinard said he’s not sure whether there will be any in Vermilion County.

Invenergy LLC of Chicago has its 134 turbine wind farm, known as the California Ridge project, running now with 30 of those turbines in the northeast quadrant of Champaign County just north of Royal in Compromise and Ogden townships and 104 of them in Vermilion County.

Weinard said Invenergy has discussed a second phase of that wind farm project but there are no immediate plans. And Weinard said he’s heard nothing from developers of another proposed project in Vermilion County, the Hoopeston wind project that would build about 40 turbines from the west edge of Rossville to the northeast. He said he has no reason to believe anything is ready to happen with that project.

So, although there are no immediate plans to build more turbines, Weinard said a moratorium will be discussed Thursday night. However, he said, he’s not sure whether it will have enough votes from among the committee members to advance to the full county board for consideration.

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