McLean wind farm gets conditional OK

A proposal to build a wind farm in Lexington, Lawndale, Chenoa and Yates townships received a conditional recommendation from the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals.

However, Horizon Wind Energy LLC must make some changes to its plan before the recommendation will be passed on to the County Board.

In a 6-0 vote, the ZBA recommended approval of Horizon’s request for a special-use permit, provided the company meets its conditions. Among the conditions is the omission of three planned wind turbines in the path of a private air strip east of Lexington.

“I think the board has done a very thorough job in hearing all the concerns and I am satisfied with the result,” said Robin Park, Horizon’s wind power project manager for the Bright Stalk Wind Farm.

“I think the board is being fair and we will work with the board to make sure that we not only meet all the standards but we ensure the safety of the people who work and live in and around the wind farm.”

The air strip in question is located on the property of Paul Kruse, owner and operator of Aerial Crop Service of Colfax. On Tuesday, Kruse testified that the wind turbines would obstruct takeoffs and landings, possibly forcing him out of business.

“I believe it’s a safety issue for flying in and out of there,” said board member Jim Finnegan. “And I don’t think we should force this man to fly three miles out of his way.”

Kruse declined comment after the hearing recessed.

Other conditions the board placed on approval included requiring Horizon to fix any broken drainage tiles, protecting the habitat surrounding Henline Creek and placing berms around substations to cut down on excessive light.

The board found that Horizon’s application met the seven stipulations for issuing a special-use permit and recessed the hearing until Oct. 5, at which time it will see if the conditions have been met. If so, the recommendation would then go to the County Board for its meeting on Oct. 19.

By  Joe Deacon,