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Protestors march against public comment amendment

Protestors hope to increase public awareness about an amendment they say would put an end to public comment. Now, they’re trying to get more people involved.

Protestors march outside the Stephenson County Courthouse with signs that read “Citizens Must be Allowed to Speak” and “Speak Out.” Dakota resident Carol Johnson says, “We’re worried about the changes they’re trying to make to the zoning process in Stephenson County we’re worried that taking the people out of the process will leave them defenseless and without a voice.”

About two weeks ago the Stephenson County Board voted 12-9 to allow wind turbines on agricultural property without a special use permit. About 1,800 people signed a petition against the idea. But in order to overturn the county’s vote, they had to get at least 5% of the county’s landowners to sign it. Now it’s up to the state’s attorney to find out how many landowners live in the county. Board Chairman John Blum says, “And then when he gets that done, he has to take the petition which probably had 1,600-1,800 names on it and see which names he could correlate with the landowners list and make sure they reach the threshold of 5%. If they reach that, it would mean the vote we took would’ve failed.”

Protestors say they’re marching not because they’re against the wind farms, but for the simple fact that the public’s input was left out. Protest organizer Mike King says, “The real issue is do you want a chance to speak before your public elected officials before they make a decision that could possibly effect your life today, 20 30 40 years from now.”

Chairman Blum says the state’s attorney’s office should let the board know if the signatures meet the required 5-percent by the next board meeting in August.

By Ryan Cummings

13 News

25 July 2007