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Wind turbines, part of the White Oak Energy Center wind farm, loom over a harvested field in February along Ziebarth Road in Normal. The 150-megawatt farm is located between Carlock and Normal.

BLOOMINGTON — A month after the McLean County Board narrowly signed off on a new wind farm near Chenoa and Lexington, another proposal is on the way.

The board will consider Tuesday a permit for Bright Stalk Wind Farm, a 58-turbine, 200-megawatt development that would join McLean County Wind Energy Center, a 100-turbine, 250-megawatt farm, near the county's north edge in the next four years.

Each is expected to produce enough power for at least 69,000 homes.

Opponents told the county's Zoning Board of Appeals they have concerns about how far Bright Stalk's turbines — at about 550 feet, the tallest ever considered in the county — are from homes and streams, how noisy they are, how they'll be decommissioned and how they'll affect nearby property values.

The board held public hearings over six weeks before signing off Monday with slight changes to the plans, including moving four turbines away from residences and beefing up decommissioning requirements and planned noise and wildlife studies.

"When I consider this, I focus on the word 'injurious' to the use and enjoyment" of other properties, as stated in county standards, said board member Julia Turner. "I don't think anywhere we're guaranteed to live without annoyances."

McLean County Wind Energy Center went through a similar process before ZBA approved it Jan. 31. The board made changes for that project related to the amount of turbine noise that can reach a residence, making contact information available for resident complaints, locating turbines near streams  and preventing erosion on access roads.

The County Board then signed off by a 10-8 vote Feb. 20, putting the project on track to be operational in 2019 or 2020, despite members' concerns about how county staff conducted the process and two attempts to delay the vote for further study and negotiation.

Member Don Cavallini, who proposed a delay to April, said he hoped to use the time in between to work out a solution to benefit local landowners who won't get money from the turbines but whose lives will be harmed by them.

Members who voted in favor of the project praised bringing more clean energy and economic development to the county. Two wind farms are already operating in McLean County, near Carlock and Ellsworth.

The County Board meets 9 a.m. Tuesday in room 400 at the downtown Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington.

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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