UI sets next meeting on wind turbine in Urbana

UI sets next meeting on wind turbine in Urbana

URBANA – The University of Illinois will hold a second public meeting next week to update residents whose homes could lie in the shadow of a proposed 400-foot wind turbine just south of the city limits.

The meeting will convene on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Urbana Civic Center, 108 E. Water St.

Monday's meeting is a follow-up to a meeting UI officials held in December. At the first session, organizers of the wind turbine project collected questions from residents, many of whom fear that a 1.5-megawatt turbine will hurt their property values and peace of mind.

Morgan Johnston, sustainability coordinator at the UI, said many of those questions required further research, and she is prepared to respond to concerns next week.

"I can't say that I have all the answers, but I do have additional information to share," Johnston said.

Some residents and Urbana officials contend that the proposed location of the turbine, near the intersection of Old Church and Philo roads, is too close to farmland, existing homes and established neighborhoods. The turbine's location was the primary concern of many speakers at the first meeting in December.

Johnston said UI officials have investigated whether it would be possible to move the turbine farther west, but they have yet to make a decision to do so.

"We don't have a lot of options for how to shift it around, and I'm going to explain all of that," Johnston said.

The university remains in negotiations with a contractor who was selected to build the turbine, and it is likely that the contract would exceed its $4.5 million budget, Johnston said. Where the additional funding would come from and whether campus leaders would approve of the extra money are decisions that have yet to be made.

The project was scheduled to go to the university's board of trustees last week, but the delays in negotiations have pushed that board decision back at least until March. Even before that, interim chancellor Robert Easter and university president Michael Hogan will need to decide whether they still support the project beyond its $4.5 million budget.

"We want to make sure that everything is done right, and that's why the negotiations are taking a while," Johnston said.