After nearly a decade of work to receive approval from the DeWitt County Board, Tradewind Energy received the blessing of the County in a 6-5 vote to move forward with their Alta Farms II wind project in the northwest corner of DeWitt County.
Over a dozen amendments were proposed to the special use application by Terry Ferguson, but after a failed attempt to send the permit back to the Zoning Board of Appeals for further review. Ferguson pointed out the county's zoning officer did not feel the application was complete and the Regional Planning Commission and the ZBA both agreed with that assessment.
Melonie Tilley also agreed with Ferguson's proposal and Ferguson also pointed out they have sent many applications back to the ZBA for further review. He believes if the ordinances and processes mean anything, anyone applying for a special use permit needs to be in line with those.
Ferguson and Tilley's proposal to send the application back to the ZBA was turned away by a 6-5 vote.
The Board discussed over a dozen amendments brought forward by Ferguson. An amendment to strengthen the decommissioning plan for the project was approved by a 6-5 vote. He says this strengthens that Tradewind will abide by the County's ordinance for decommissioning of the wind towers.
In the event a tower is to be moved from its proposed site, Ferguson proposed adding an amendment Tradewind do a shadow flicker study and noise study. Tilley questioned if moving a wind turbine was not a violation of the ordinance and State's Attorney Dan Markwell directed Tilley to the recommendation of the ZBA.
After the motion by Ferguson failed, he proposed deleting the condition and that motion was approved.
DeWitt County non-participating landowners within a half-mile of the footprint of one of the turbines will receive financial compensation. Ferguson says with their application, a list of landowners within a half-mile of each of their turbines must be included in their building permit application.
Among the proposed changes that failed was one for a reduction of nighttime visual pollution from the towers. Tradewind did not include an application to the FAA for an aircraft detection lighting system and Ferguson's proposal sought to eliminate the nighttime visuals emitted by the turbines.
Ferguson proposed eliminating two turbines from the footprint of the plan because it would impact several dozen, non-participating landowners. The proposal failed and perhaps received the most reaction from a very calm, but the sizeable crowd on the Clinton Square.
Among other amendment adjustments and proposals from Ferguson that failed were an amendment regarding construction taking place over a drainage district, coordination with DNR in regards to preservation of wildlife, roadwork could only begin upon plans being submitted to the County Highway Engineer, and to limit impacts of shadow flicker to 15 hours per year.
Amendments that passed included a sound study to be conducted by Alta Farms within 12 months of any sale of the project.
Prior to the vote, Tilley and Ferguson offered up one final piece of advice to their fellow board members....
Board members that voted in support of the special use application were Board Chair David Newbert, Vice-Chair Camille Redman, Lance Reece, Jay Wickenhauser, Scott Nimmo, and Christie Pruser.
Those who voted in opposition to the special use application were Ferguson, Tilley, Nate Ennis, Dan Matthews, and Travis Houser.
Cole Ritter was absent from the Tuesday meeting.