I grew up, operated and still actively participate with my son on our family farm. Over all that time I have seen many trends in the agricultural business, but wind power generation is not one I consider to be agricultural based. Yet, our county leadership wants to allow these types of facilities permitted uses in our agricultural zones without any zoning board review or forum for public protest. The claim is to streamline the system but all it actually does is open the door for more and more wind turbines to be scattered about without any formal protest opportunity for neighboring land owners.
Once these wind turbines are given agricultural zoning they will be taxed no differently than a stalk of corn. I don’t see this as fairness to anyone in the county whether you are for or against wind power. These facilities are an energy producing industry and should be taxed as any other industrial use of land. If the claim is they will generate so much income then, as county residents who have to share the landscape with these monstrosities, we should get the full benefit of the tax dollars that they are worth.
Recently the county chairman, a longtime acquaintance of mine, presented proposals to two school districts that would benefit from wind turbines. The plan “promises” several thousand dollars, however, is the land that the turbines are constructed on is taxed appropriately these schools would receive thousands of dollars more than that plan.
I am opposed to the construction of wind turbines here in Stephenson County, but if it is inevitable, I urge the county board to uphold the zoning board’s decision to deny these zoning amendments. Then, as a group along with the major taxing bodies affected, draft a plan that is fair to everyone whether opponent or proponent which includes fair taxation and revenue distribution, adequate setback distances, a guaranteed decommissioning plan, and a proper opportunity for protests to be heard.
10 July 2007
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