NEWMAN TOWNSHIP, Ill. (WCIA) — Plans for a wind farm ran into a big problem Monday night after the township voted to create a zoning ordinance.
More than 100 people packed a special meeting. The change could set stricter rules for wind farms and would be a big setback for the EDP Renewable Energy. It’s already spent about $10 million on the project, but leaders didn’t plan for this.
Newman Township is surrounded by farmland.
Gary Luth says, “It’s a very beautiful setting. I live on top of a ridge and they’re going to dot the things all over in there.”
EDP Renewable Energy plans to transform much of that land into a wind farm. For more than a year, it’s been planning under the Douglas County zoning ordinance.
EDP’s project manager Amy Kurt says, “We have almost 100 land owners that have signed on and more than 10,000 acres of land.”
But those people were outnumbered by many who don’t want to see this happen. Tuesday night, township residents voted 86 yes – 57 no to creating a zoning ordinance which would create new rules for their land.
EDP says this is big problem.
Kurt says, “It creates a bunch of uncertainty around how you would build a wind farm. We’ve been working on this project for several years.”
Some say they don’t have a problem with the wind farm because they see value in renewable energy.
Nathan House says, “I think we’re lucky they chose this area.”
But there are others who value their property more.
Luth says, “It bothers me that they’re allowed to put the towers so close to peoples’ homes. Currently Douglas County has a setback requirement for an occupied residence of only 1,000 feet.“
Luth is one of the farmers EDP asked to lease land. He turned them down. Others said they don’t like the look of wind turbines and they’re concerned about the potential of declining property values. But EDP says this would bring more pros than cons.
“Our wind farm will bring more than $2 million in property taxes to serve the local schools, the local fire district, the library and other important public services in this community.”
Despite that, Tuesday night’s decision means this company has a lot to lose. The township board will appoint five zoning commissioners to write the ordinance and present the plan to the city council for approval.
This wind farm also affects land in Murdock Township. Residents will be making a similar zoning decision at its meeting next week.