Public invited to comment on wind turbines

Public invited to comment on wind turbines

DANVILLE — The public will have the chance tonight to make comments on Vermilion County's ordinance that regulates the construction of wind farm turbines.

In response to a request for a moratorium on any new wind farm construction, Vermilion County Board members decided in March to schedule tonight's public hearing, giving local residents the chance to voice any concerns they might have with the county's current wind turbine ordinance, specifically setback distances.

The hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Potomac Elementary School, 7915 U.S. Route 136, Potomac.

For more than a year, some local residents have been asking the county board to increase its setbacks, meaning the minimum distance between a wind turbine and a structure like a house. They have also been requesting a moratorium on any new wind turbine construction until the county board has revisited its regulations.

The county board has taken no action in that regard, but in March, Vermilion County Board member Chuck Nesbitt, R-District 3, proposed to the county board's executive committee a moratorium on construction that would allow the county to consider making several changes to the county wind ordinance, including increasing the setbacks.

Currently, a wind turbine cannot be any closer than 1,200 feet from a primary structure, according to the county's ordinance. But Nesbitt proposed changing it to 1,320 feet from the property line and 2,640 feet from the closest primary structure.

In response to Nesbitt's request, county board member John Alexander, R-District 6, proposed that the county hold a hearing giving the public, especially residents who live in the area of the current California Ridge wind farm in western Vermilion County, the opportunity to voice any concerns or problems they have with the turbines or the wind farm in general. But it's also an opportunity for those in support of wind farms to make comments, according to county board officials. Alexander said he would like that type of input before considering a moratorium and any changes to the ordinance.

According to county board officials, the public is welcome to make comments at the hearing but will generally be limited to 5 minutes, and Alexander will chair the meeting.

The county's wind advisory panel, a group of local officials who review and approve each application for a wind turbine, will be allowed to ask questions of the participants at the meeting, according to county officials, but there will be no debate allowed. A report on the public hearing will be turned over to all county board members after the hearing.

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