MONTICELLO – The Piatt County Board has placed a moratorium on the issuance of permits for wind energy systems until Aug. 1.
The board voted 4-2 last Wednesday to put the moratorium in effect until August 1.
Apex Clean Energy is proposing a 300 megawatt project that would include approximately 60 turbines. Apex officials expect to file the special use permit in the summer or fall.
The county first placed a six-month moratorium on wind farm permits in March 2020, which was extended another six months when it expired in September 2020.
County officials said the move was necessary because State’s Attorney Sarah Perry is working on new language for a proposed amendment designed to protect the interests of drainage districts during construction of a wind farm.
The board asked Perry to rewrite the amendment in April.
“I am not done with that,” she told the board last week. “We had one meeting and it was productive. I have concerns about the ordinance. I think it is vague. The drainage district officials have some valid concerns and I think things can be better spelled out, but I would like a little more time.”
During the public comment period, Alan Moore, a senior development manager for Apex, asked the board not to extend the moratorium.
“Miss Perry has already done work on this, so a moratorium would just be another form of kicking the can down the road and drawing the process out even further,” he said. “As you know, the last moratorium was supposed to be a short one and it lasted more than a year.”
Monticello Attorney Amy Rupiper, who represents the DeLand Special Drainage District and Trenkle Slough Special Drainage District, said she supported the moratorium.
“That way, all parties can come to an agreement on the wording of the amendment,” she said. “Right now, there is no consensus as to what the amendment should contain.”
Rupiper recommended language that would require a wind farm developer to identify all drainage district facilities that may be impacted by the Wind Energy Conversion equipment. Moore stated that Apex officials are working on a solution.
“We have been in contact with the drainage districts and have hired a local drainage consultant,” Moore said. “The districts have provided maps and we are working on this.”
After the vote, Moore said the wind farm would move forward.
“We want the county board to take their time and make smart decisions for the project,” he said.
Several Piatt County residents asked the board to dismiss the project altogether during the public comment period.
“I am not one of those “Not In My Backyard” type of people, but I realized that one could be put in my backyard,” said Laura Stalter of Mansfield. “Fortunately, the Village of Mansfield voted to not allow an exemption that would allow wind turbines within a mile and a half of the city limits. But there are other Piatt County residents who have no voice except for the county board. Please protect us from Apex. They are not interested in the residents of Piatt County.”
In other business, the county approved changes to the liquor ordinance. The fees increased for a Class A Liquor Licence ($750), Class B ($600), Class C ($200), Class D ($50), Class E ($50) and Class F ($1,000).
Alcohol may be sold at retail locations with liquor licenses (Class A) between 6 a.m. and 12 midnight Monday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The fees and hours are now in line with the City of Monticello.
The county also approved work to be done on the HVAC project for the courthouse in the amount of $448,434. A $200,000 state grant will help with the project.