Permit opponents against virtual meeting for vote

Internet access, pandemic, open meetings act cited as some reasons

CLINTON — Nearly 20 people signed up to speak May 21 against a scheduled virtual meeting vote on the Alta Farms II wind energy permit application June 2.
The May 21 county board meeting held via Zoom began with comments about the planned June vote.  A litany of reasons was cited by those who felt a virtual meeting was a bad idea.
The June vote using an online platform was scheduled after board members discussed in April the uncertainty about the future of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
Tradewind Energy representatives said at that time they were in favor of a virtual meeting to avoid postponing the vote.
But residents opposing the Tradewind special use permit application said they preferred waiting until social-distancing restrictions were lifted.
“I want to thank you for listening to us tonight,” Kathy Evans told board members.  “What I would like is for you to not have a June meeting …”
Evans said she felt holding the meeting via Zoom made it more difficult for people to participate or listen.  
Two of the complaints about virtual meetings included lack of or poor Internet service, and difficulty sometimes in hearing what people say.
Evans’ voice, in fact, was garbled during some of her comments in the May 21 meeting.  Others were clear.
Roy Taylor, whose voice was clear throughout his comments, also thanked the board for listening to those people scheduled to speak.
“It’s a very important topic to the citizens of DeWitt County,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he opposed a virtual meeting to take the wind energy vote because of the pandemic.
“I would think that the board has more pressing matters to be tending to during the worst pandemic to ever hit the United States in 100 years, he said
Taylor also felt the Tradewind application was incomplete, an opinion shared by many opposing the application, and that a virtual meeting might be a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act if not everyone had access to the Internet or own a computer or digital device.
He also cited the lack of support for the permit application from the zoning board of appeals and regional planning commission.
Taylor said he has lived in DeWitt County for 17 years and lives within the footprint of the proposed project.
Mary Pat Killian said conducting a virtual vote on the application in June did not, “constitute essential business during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

• Read the complete story in the Friday, 5/29 print edition of the Clinton Journal or right now on the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.


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