By Bob Balgemann


After a one-month delay, the plan to build a natural gas-fired power plant at the Interstate 90 – Garden Prairie Road interchange has returned to the Boone County Board for action.

It was on the Wednesday, Jan. 18 board agenda, but a misstep caused it to be sent to the regional planning commission for discussion and a recommendation.

Commissioners met Monday, Jan. 23 and agreed in a 3-0 vote with one absent that the requested special use permit complied with the county’s 2010 comprehensive plan.

Its recommendation also included a proviso for a property value guarantee for neighboring properties. The applicant, at its own cost, will have appraisals conducted on neighboring properties within one mile “as a crow flies” of the power plant site.

In the event that a neighboring property owner experienced a loss of value, as a result of a bonafide third-party sale, the applicant will make up the difference.

The county’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA) in December 2016 voted 3-0 with one absent to recommend approval of the special use.

At its Tuesday, Jan. 24 meeting, the ZBA vote recommending approval was 3-1 with one absent.

Votes of the county planning, zoning and building committee (PZB) on Wednesday, Jan. 4 and Wednesday, Feb. 1 both were 3-2 recommendations of denial. This is one of seven standing committees of the county board and is made up of five county board members.

County staff recommended approval, subject to more than 20 conditions.

All of the most recent recommendations were expected to be discussed at the Wednesday, Feb. 15 board meeting.

Power Ventures Group (PVG) LLC, of Kansas City, Mo., is proposing to operate the power plant at the southeast corner of the Interstate 90 and Garden Prairie Road interchange, in Spring Township.

County land planner Hilary Arther said the county board in 2009 approved a special use permit for construction of the Garden Prairie Energy Facility. That was to be a 100-megawatt, natural gas-fired, peak-loaded electrical generating facility.

Subsequent to approval, she said PVG found it difficult to finance the original equipment and withdrew the permit. The new application uses state-of-the-art technology in the form of three larger turbines, which replace the 12 reciprocating engines requested in the original application.

The 20-acre parcel, housing a vacant energy facility, is in A-1, Agriculture Preservation, as is all surrounding property. All of the neighboring land is in agricultural use.

The Spring Township Board of Trustees at its Dec. 12 meeting recommended against issuing the permit. Supervisor Ryan Kufalt in a letter said the board cited “excessive water use” of the plant and it being located within an agricultural area of the county’s comprehensive plan.

Opposition also came from the Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau.

Late developments on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the day of the county board meeting, led to the plant issue being sent to the RPC.

Essentially, that step in the process had been omitted as the special use application made its rounds in December and early in January.

County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith said it came to her attention late that morning that proper procedure had not been followed for the application.

Planning commission members were not aware of the development and would have to be told immediately, so they could gather before the Tuesday, Jan. 24 ZBA meeting, County Administrator Ken Terrinoni explained.

Smith said comments made at the December ZBA meeting could stand at the planning commission meeting. The ZBA then would consider the recommendation of the planning commission.

Terrinoni thanked the state’s attorney’s office for pulling everything together with such short notice.

“That was an awful lot for them to get their arms around today,” he said.

Smith referred to it as “a team effort” that also included county employees.



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