FORREST, IL. (ECWd) -
We knew it was only a matter of time until we could manage to get our hands on an actual copy of one of the "gag orders" imposed on people by wind energy companies like Invenergy.
Invenergy will say, just like the rest of them, that there is no such animal as a "gag order" on hosting property owners and neighbors.
That is technically true if you use a court ordered gag order as the actual definition of one.
However, we believe like what is contained in other "agreements" with individual property owners and their "good neighbors", this Village of Forrest agreement is tantamount to a "gag order" simply because, should the city or city council ever say anything negative about Pleasant Ridge, no matter how far away from the city limits it may be, all payments cease and a demand will be made for repayment of all payments ever tendered to the Village.
The problem with these types of agreements comes when these people attend public hearings, like the ones in Livingston County recently, and speak in favor of wind farms and the Pleasant Ridge Wind Farm. They do this without any notification to the public or to the Zoning Board of Appeals that they are essentially getting paid to talk in favor of Wind Energy - because should the ZBA convince the county board to say "no", the Village of Forrest would receive no payments.
In the agreement signed on August 19, 2014 between the Village of Forrest and Invenergy's Pleasant Ridge Wind Farm, the Village has:
1. - Given away its zoning and building code rights within 1 1/2 miles from the city limits.
Additionally, the Village (view contract here):
1. - Will not oppose the Project or encourage any other party to oppose the Project
2. - Will not take any action(s) or encourage anyone else to take any action(s) to oppose anything related to the Project in any way - regardless of its distance from the city.
3. - If they breach any of the agreement's terms, the Village shall refund all monies paid within 10 days of notice of breach.
4. - Agree to keep these terms confidential.
As if that wasn't enough, the Village decided to send out some propaganda disguised as a newsletter touting how good the agreement was, and to disparage any opposition, under the guise of a "personal writing" of Jim Gulliford. They used Village funds, property, and credit to produce and mail this "newsletter" to the Village residents.
The really sad part of the newsletter, is that it complains that the wind farm opposition are only giving people part of the story, while at the same time the letter only gives part of the story.
Let this be fair warning to all those attending future Zoning Board Hearings and Permit Approval Hearings that the people speaking in favor of Wind Energy are getting paid to speak in favor of it. They should be placed under oath and asked questions about any agreements they are bound by in relation to wind farms, and their testimony stricken from the record when proven to be under an agreement. From all appearances, they are intentionally misleading the public and the board members at the public hearings.