DeWitt County ZBA approves wind farm restrictions

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CLINTON, Ill. (WAND) — The DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved additional restrictions to the proposed wind farm project.

While that was met with sighs of relief from numerous rural landowners, Russel Davenport worries those restrictions could hurt job growth.

“We want to get those jobs out here and there’s a lot of them possible,” he said.

Davenport is the business manager for Laborers Local 703.

“I live here in DeWitt County so I’m worried about tax revenue that we need here,” Davenport said. “Most of all, these are going to be good-paying jobs for the working people of this area.”

But not every person living in DeWitt County is blown away by the proposed wind farm.

“I couldn’t move if I wanted to because no one wants to buy a house next to a wind farm,” said John Heinlen.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting, there were no restrictions on turbine height and the turbines only had to be 1500 feet from the nearest house. But after the board approved additional restrictions, turbine height is now capped at 499 feet and setbacks were pushed out to 2000 feet.

“Anything over 500 feet requires two flashing lights,” Heinlen said. “We [were] asking for the flashing lights to be cut in half [to preserve the night’s sky]…if we’re going to get stuck with wind farms, we ask that they minimize the damage for them.”

The company behind the project, Tradewind Energy, worries those restrictions could limit energy production and possibly preclude the project before it breaks ground.

“This is 30 years of tax revenue,” Davenport said. “Anybody who is not for this doesn’t make sense for DeWitt County.”

The proposed regulations now head to the DeWitt County Board for final approval on April 19.

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