Stephenson County considers a few amendments that would make putting a wind farm up as easy as striking a deal with a private farm owner. A few residents who don’t like the changes because they say it silences them.
Many of them have complaints about the windmills being next door. But some board members say it’s just a way to speed up an “arduous” process. Lancaster Voices member Mike King says, “I do hear the turbines, they’re not quiet. I do see the shadows.”
Those were complaints Stephenson County’s Zoning Board of Appeals listened to recently during several nights of public hearings about two proposed wind farms. Right now, the turbines require a special use permit and that means lots of committee meetings and public forums.
Three proposed amendments would eliminate all that and make wind farms okay in agricultural districts. Stephenson County Board Planning and Development Committee Chair Jeff Mikkelsen says, “We found the special use process to be very arduous, time consuming and in the end, we got sued anyway.”
Residents filed that lawsuit against the county saying it didn’t grant them due process when it handled Navitas’ request to build a wind farm in Dakota. But some say if the amendments take effect, it makes their lawsuit a moot point. Lancaster Voices member Rick Giles says, “If this passes, the way it is, they’ll just say ‘OK, we give up.’ And then after this takes effect, they’ll come in and put in their permits and build them where ever they want.”
The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing Thursday at 7:00 p.m. As for Monday night’s planning and development committee, Jeff Mikkelsen thinks the changes will go through.
By Smita Kalokhe
2 July 2007
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